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Cancer Research Update: New Strategy Uses Nanoparticles To Kill Tumors

Update Date: Jan 24, 2017 10:07 AM EST

Among the different strategies to kill cancer cells in the body, the most common one is chemotherapy. In the latest update on cancer research, scientists are developing a cancer-fighting strategy that uses nanoparticles to kill tumors.

It is a known medical fact that oxygen plays an important part in cancer growth. Starting with this premise, the scientists devised a cancer-fighting strategy that will cut off oxygen and nutrient supply to and within a tumor. The deprivation of oxygen and nutrients will starve the tumor thereby killing it in the long run.

In order to implement this strategy, the scientists developed a deoxygenation agent that is biocompatible, meaning no heavy metals are used or are components of the agent. The agent should also not only be an efficient oxygen scavenger but should also last a long period of time.

Finally, the deoxygenation agent should be easily injected into the patient's body and should only target the tumor and not the surrounding healthy tissues.

The study, published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, used a polymer-modified Magnesium Silicide (Mg2Si) nanoparticle. The injectable nanoparticles were prepared using a self-propagating high-temperature synthesis strategy. This means that the deoxygenation agent would not clump together into clusters but remain scattered in the liquid.

The researchers demonstrated the potential of the Mg2Si nanoparticle by injecting it into mice for testing. The study found that the nanoparticles are efficient deoxygenation agent. It was able to reduce the oxygen in the tested mice within three hours. Tests showed complete depletion of hemoglobin-bound oxygen and blood oxygen within in the tumor.

Moreover, the Mg2Si nanoparticle forms a by-product that prevent reoxygenation in the tumor's capillaries. In particular, the acidic microenvironment in the tumor reacts with the nanoparticle which releases the by-product silane.

Silane then reacts with the hemoglobin-bound oxygen and tissue-dissolved oxygen to form silicon oxide aggregates. The formation of the aggregates blocks the tumor from getting new oxygen and nutrient supplies.

With this success on testing on mice, the researchers are hopeful that others will be compelled to use deoxygenation agents like the Magnesium Silicide nanoparticle in targeting tumors. Furthermore, the researchers are modifying the nanoparticles so it will stay longer traveling through the patient's blood streams.

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