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Researchers Developing A New Drug Delivery Method That Targets Just The Cancer Cells Instead Entire Body

Update Date: Apr 03, 2014 12:09 PM EDT

Chemotherapeutic cells are certainly good at fighting cancer but their efficiency often raises concern. They interact with blood, bone marrow and other bodily systems diluting the drugs and ultimately causing unwanted side effects.

Now, researchers are reportedly developing a better delivery method by encapsulating the drugs in nanoballoons. Nanoballons are the tiny modified liposomes that upon being struck by a red laser pop open and deliver the concentrated dose of medicine. 

"Why PoP-liposomes, or nanoballoons, open in response to an otherwise harmless red laser is still a bit of a mystery to us, but we have definitely unearthed a new and unique phenomenon," said corresponding author Jonathan Lovell, PhD, UB assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the press release. "Its potential for improving how we treat cancer is immense."

Nanoballons are 1,000 times thinner than the human hair and consist of porphyrin - an organic compound - along with phospholipid - a fat similar to vegetable oil. Just like the conventional chemotherapy these would be also delivered to patients intravenously. 

In the newly developed delivery method, nanoballoons will encapsulate the anti-cancer drugs so they would be able to diminish the drugs' interaction with the healthy bodily systems.

"Think of it this way," Lovell added in the press release. "The nanoballoon is a submarine. The drug is the cargo. We use a laser to open the submarine door which releases the drug. We close the door by turning the laser off. We then retrieve the submarine as it circulates through the bloodstream."

Researchers believe the invention could help in improving the cancer treatment reducing the side effects. 

The development of the invention is described in the journal Nature Communication.

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