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Cancer kills more than half a million men, women, and children each year in the U.S, and chemotherapy is only slightly more discriminating than the disease it treats. As a result, many cancer treatments kill cells throughout the body and cause severe side effects. New IRP research could solve this problem by creating a way to release those toxic compounds only when and where doctors desire.
Recent revolutions in materials science allow researchers to manipulate materials at the level of individual molecules and atoms.
Scientists - Advantage - Breakthroughs - Methods - Location
Scientists take advantage of these breakthroughs to create methods of controlling the location, timing, and dosage of drug administration in the body.
Such techniques would be a particular boon to cancer patients because chemotherapy medications are toxic to both tumor cells and certain healthy cells. As a result, when those drugs are administered through traditional means and allowed to circulate throughout the entire body, they produce severe side effects. If the drugs could somehow be contained until they reach a tumor, the treatment would be both more effective and less harmful to the rest of the body.
Decade - Research - Efforts - Nanomaterials - Properties
"Over the past decade, significant research efforts have focused on designing nanomaterials whose properties and, therefore, behavior are regulated in a programmable fashion," says IRP senior investigator Xiaoyuan 'Shawn' Chen, Ph.D., the new study's senior author. "The challenge is to design and synthesize a drug delivery system that is sensitive to both tumor-specific internal stimuli like pH and external stimuli like heat or a magnetic field."
In their new study, Dr. Chen and his team did just that. Their cutting-edge drug delivery system relies on two separate 'logic gates,' each of which acts as a safety switch to prevent the release of a drug unless a particular condition is fulfilled. Similar methods have been designed in the past that use one logic gate, but...
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