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Nanoparticles May Be Future of Cancer Care

Super-small particles destroy malignant cells, leave healthy ones alone

MONDAY, March 27, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Extremely small, custom-designed nanoparticles show promise in improving cancer diagnosis and treatment, researchers report.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina said the nanoparticles may enable a more targeted and effective delivery of anticancer drugs than current treatments and have the potential to reduce side effects associated with chemotherapy. The nanoparticles are designed at the molecular level to attack specific kinds of cancer without harming healthy cells.

"I think this will transform the way one detects and treats cancer," study leader Joseph DeSimone, UNC chemistry professor and director of the school's Institute for Advanced Materials, Nanoscience and Technology, said in a prepared statement.

The new custom nanoparticles are the most uniform, shape-specific drug delivery particles developed to date, the researchers said. In cell studies, they were able to attach to specific cell targets, release chemotherapy drugs inside cells, and also hold MRI contrast agents.

The findings were to be presented Sunday at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Atlanta.

Animal studies with the custom nanoparticles began recently, and human studies are expected to follow, the researchers said.

DeSimone co-founded a company to develop and produce the nanoparticles.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about nanotechnology.

SOURCE: American Chemical Society, news release, March 26, 2006
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