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.

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.

  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Join in and ask questions as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

You've read of free articles this month.