I am posting this article about the use of gold particles and chemotherapy because I thought it was pretty interesting. All this nanotechnology is. The future of medicine. How exciting. So read it if you are so inclined. I will post something more juicy this week. Love to y’all.
Last Updated: 01 Mar 2006
Scientists have created a way for viruses and tiny bits of gold to assemble within the body to potentially seek out and destroy diseases, such as cancer, a new study reports.
The M. D. Anderson study shows that miniscule particles of gold – a metal that is not rejected by the body – can create a microscopic “vehicle” of sorts, called a nanoshuttle, that attaches to viruses that can find and possibly attack diseased cells.
The viruses possess this tracking ability because they have been specially engineered to display a protein that matches a protein receptor “zip code” on the diseased tissue of interest, according to the study published in a recent issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(PNAS).
Nano devices could be used in various diseases
This homing technique was pioneered by the study co-leaders Renata Pasqualini, Ph.D., and Wadih Arap, M.D., both professors in M. D. Anderson’s Department of Medicine and Cancer Biology.
Their previous work revealed that the human vascular system contains unique molecular addresses, depending on the site of an organ or tissue, and that blood vessels also acquire abnormal signatures on diseased organs. They were the first to attach such unique vascular “zip codes” to viruses, so that they could engineer the viruses to go to these target addresses.
While many researchers have tried to use synthetic materials or polymers to create tiny devices that can be used in medical therapy, they have not been able to find a way to get these devices to specific organs or tissues that need to be treated, Pasqualini says.
The M. D. Anderson research team, however, discovered that “gold is a perfect metal” to use because it is biologically compatible, and the other key component to produce targetable nanoparticles are the specially engineered viruses.
Research drives scientists to future studies
According to the team, nano devices might be able to treat a number of different diseases in similar ways:
Cancer– Nanoshuttles may be able to locate specific tumors by using an array of imaging techniques. The tumors could then be treated by either heating the gold particles with laser light and/or using the nanoparticles to selectively deliver a drug to destroy the cancer.
Heart disease– Nanoshuttles could locate damaged areas on arteries that have been caused by heart disease, and then deliver stem cells to the site that can build new blood vessel tissue.
Although the nanoshuttle has not been tested in animals, the study is the first to show how, in a laboratory, gold and viruses can combine and build a matrix that can support stem cells, which could regenerate diseased tissue.
“This is our vision of the future, and, of course, it all needs to be further studied and translated into real clinical applications,” Arap says. “But we can now think in those terms because of this pioneering work that merges the fields of vascular targeting and nanotechnology.”