Nanotechnology tackles major problems associated with chemotherapy 

NEW JERSEY — Researchers from Rutgers University have developed a nanotechnology approach that potentially could eliminate the problems of side effects and drug resistance in the treatment of cancer. 

Under traditional chemotherapy, cancer cells, like bacteria, can develop resistance to drug therapy, leading to a relapse of the disease. As reported in the December 21, 2009, issue of the journal SmallHuixin He (associate  professor of nanoscale chemistry at Rutgers University, Newark), Tamara Minko (professor at the Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy), and their co-researchers have designed nanomaterials that allow for the delivery of both a chemical (doxorubicin) to destroy cancer cells and a genetic drug to prevent drug resistance.

Battling Aggressive Breast Cancer with Nanotubes

In related research, Professor He and another team of co-researchers have developed single-walled carbon nanotubes that hold the potential of providing a more effective means for detecting and selectively destroying aggressive breast cancer cells.

In a paper published in BMC Cancer late last year, the researchers showed that by chemically bonding a special antibody onto the nanotubes and taking advantage of two unique properties of carbon nanotubes, single cancer cells can be detected and selectively eradicated while leaving the nearby normal cells unharmed. The uniqueness of this approach is that it is more easily extended to other types of cancer cells. 

Research Focuses on Practical Applications Across a Wide Range of Fields

The application of He’s research is far and wide. He and members of her lab at Rutgers are working on the practical application of nanomaterials as a diagnostic tool for Parkinson’s disease. Other research is focused on the development of a platform to detect the presence of chemical warfare agents for homeland defense. He and her lab members are also working on nanotechnology to measure iron ions in ocean atmosphere dust and sea water, which is critical for the study of greenhouse gases and climate change.

Adapted from Rutgers University news release.

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