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New Anti-Cancer Drug Delivery Method That Sneaks Drugs Into Cancer Cells Before Triggering Release

Update Date: May 09, 2014 11:36 AM EDT

Researchers have reportedly developed an anti-cancer drug delivery method that essentially smuggles the drug into cancer cell prior to its release. 

The newly developed method can be compared to keeping a cancer-killing bomb and its detonator separate until they are inside the cancer cell, where eventually they combine to destroy the cell. 

"This is an efficient, fast-acting way of delivering drugs to cancer cells and triggering cell death," said Dr. Ran Mo, lead author of a paper on the work and a postdoctoral researcher in the joint biomedical engineering program at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in the press release. "We also used lipid-based nanocapsules that are already in use for clinical applications, making it closer to use in the real world."

The method is based on a technique that uses nanoscale lipid-based capsules, or liposomes, to deliver both the drug and the release mechanism into cancer cells. 

While testing the technique on the mouse, researchers found that it significantly decreased the size of breast cancer tumors compared to treatment that used Dox (an anti-cancer drug) without the nanoscale liposomes. 

"This work is somewhat similar to previous research we've done with polymer-based nanogels - but there is a key difference," said Dr. Zhen Gu, senior author of the paper and an assistant professor in the joint biomedical engineering program, in the press release. "The difference is that this liposome-based technique allows us to introduce additional ATP into the cancer cell, releasing the drug more quickly.

"Being able to adjust ATP levels is important because some cancer cells are ATP deficient," Gu adds. "But this technique would work even in those environments."

The study is published online in Angewandte Chemie.

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