Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Rewriting Life

Power Drugs

Problems with mitochondria – cells’ tiny energy-producing units – can cause illnesses as diverse as cancer and Parkinson’s disease. Volkmar Weissig, a pharmaceutical scientist at Northeastern University, says he’s devised the first drug delivery system that can shuttle a drug through a cell to target its mitochondria. Weissig coats drugs in a common antibacterial compound; the positively charged coating is attracted to the mitochondria, which are the most negatively charged parts of the cell. In a recent experiment with mice, Weissig found that tumors treated with the coated version of the cancer drug Taxol grew only half as much as those treated with the uncoated drug. Weissig says he could also use the approach to shuttle DNA to the mitochondria, a possible basis for gene therapy to correct mutations in mitochondrial DNA – which have been implicated in neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. A Boston startup company, MitoVec, plans to couple Weissig’s technology with several existing cancer drugs and begin testing it in humans in two to three years.

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.