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It’s like a medical delivery version of special delivery from the post office: the use of nanobubbles to deliver chemotherapy or genetic materials directly to individually selected cancer cells. The use of nanobubbles could allow clinicians to treat only cancer cells while leaving nearby healthy cells untouched.
You may have heard of nanoparticles, which are ultrafine particles less than 100 nanometers in size. The use of nanoparticles in medicine is expanding rapidly, as they can offer significant improvements in many areas, from imaging to delivery of drug treatments.
This latest research involves the use of nanoparticles to help deliver chemotherapy via nanobubbles.
In this study, conducted by researchers at Rice University, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Baylor College of Medicine, laser light was used to strike nanoparticles, which instantly converted them into heat and created nanobubbles. By matching the wavelength of the laser to the wave of electrons on the surface of a nanoparticle, the scientists made sure the nanobubbles would form only around groups of nanoparticles in cancer cells.
When the nanobubbles burst, they opened up holes in the surface of the cancer cells and allowed the drugs to enter the cells. This approach, which has not yet been tested in animals, “has the potential to revolutionize drug delivery and gene therapy in diverse applications,” noted co-author Dr. Malcolm Brenner, professor of medicine and of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine.
Lukianova-Hleb EY et al. Plasmonic nanobubble-enhanced endosomal escape processes for selective and guided intracellular delivery of chemotherapy to drug-resistant cancer cells. Biomaterials 2012; 33 (6): 1821