Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

By delivering their cargo directly to the tumor site, the nanoparticles allowed the researchers to lower the required dose of fumagillin by a factor of 1,000. None of the rabbits displayed any detectable neurotoxic side effects.

The tumors of treated rabbits were also permeated with more immune cells than those of the control rabbits. Patrick Winter, research assistant professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at Washington University and lead author of the study, says this may mean the body’s ability to recognize a tumor as foreign and mount an attack is somehow amplified by the treatment.

Because the formation of new blood vessels is an essential component of tumor growth, Winter believes his team’s approach will be highly adaptable. “A method to block angiogenesis should be very effective in a wide range of cancers,” he says.

By including an imaging molecule, the researchers were able to noninvasively create detailed three-dimensional maps of the tumors’ vasculature, a feat never before achieved. They hope this will allow them to track how tumor-feeding blood vessels respond to various treatments, and to better understand tumor vasculature in general.

In fact, nanoparticles strictly designed for imaging–loaded with the metallic compound but not with any drug—will be the first application of the new technology to be tested in humans. Winter anticipates human clinical trials will begin by the end of 2008. Clinical trials of drug-laden nanoparticles may be three to five years away.

The Washington University team is one of many groups investigating nanoparticle-based systems for treating and imaging cancer, which range from elaborate polymers to quantum dots and use a wide range of mechanisms to deliver their effects. While many of these second- generation nanoparticle approaches show great promise in animal models, none have yet progressed to human clinical trials. In many cases, the safety of the nanoparticles’ components has yet to be demonstrated. Winters believes his group’s approach may circumvent some of these safety concerns, as the liquid core of the new nanoparticles has been previously used in artificial blood. “The toxicology and distribution and elimination of these agents is already very well known,” he says. “And these agents have already been used in large-scale manufacturing processes.”

1 comment. Share your thoughts »

Credit: Courtesy of the Washington University School of Medicine

Tagged: Biomedicine, cancer, nanoparticles, nanomedicine, chemotherapy

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me