Nano "Ships" Designed for Drug Delivery

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ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Researchers from the University of California San Diego, UC  Santa Barbara, and MIT have developed nanometer-sized hybrid structures carrying anti-cancer drugs and quantum dot imaging agents.

San Diego, CA (Sept.11)-Researchers from the University of California (UC) San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed nanometer-sized hybrid structures carrying anticancer drugs and quantum-dot imaging agents. Successful experiments in mice involved loading the structures with the anticancer drug doxorubin and two imaging agents: superparamagnetic iron-oxide particles and fluorescent quantum dots. The iron oxide enables researchers to view the tumor under magnetic resonance imaging, and the quantum dots can be viewed with a fluorescent scanner.

The outside of the 50-nm structures is composed of a modified lipid that allows the system to circulate in the bloodstream for several hours before being eliminated and avoids early release of the drug. The protein F3, designed to adhere to cancer cells and transport into the cells' nuclei, is tethered to the surface of the structures.


According to the research team, the study in mice is the first single nanomaterial used to simultaneously deliver a drug and provide multimode imaging of a disease tissue in a live animal. The team is currently working on methods of chemically treating the surface of the system to target specific cancer tumors in the body.