‘Smart bomb’ is launched to attack cancer
SCIENTISTS have successfully tested a capillary “smart bomb” that simultaneously attacks cancer and boosts the immune system.
The tiny hollow spheres become trapped in leaky tumour blood vessels, where they unleash an anti-cancer drug. At the same time the spheres, called “nanolipogels” (NLGs), release a protein that rallies the body’s own defences.
Researchers tested the spheres in mice on melanoma skin cancer that had spread to the lungs. Tumour growth was significantly delayed and the survival of the mice increased.
The new technology overcomes a problem with cancer treatment that has been difficult to tackle using conventional therapies.
Cancer tumours are known to secrete chemicals that confuse the immune system. But attempts to boost patient immunity while at the same time neutralising the cancer’s chemical arsenal rarely work.
The NLGs, described in the journal Nature Materials, package together two completely different kinds of molecule. One is designed to overcome a potent cancer defence weapon called “TGF-beta”, which stunts the local immune system. The other, an interleukin signalling molecule, boosts immune system activity.
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