Tiny Balloons Provide Targeted Cancer Treatment

Tiny balloons that are approximately 1,000 times smaller than a human hair and lasers, may be the key to increasing the anticancer properties of chemotherapy. Researchers from the University of Buffalo developed these “nanoballoons” that are capable of delivering cancer medications directly to tumors themselves, without causing unwanted damage to healthy tissue along the way.

Lovell and laser

Known as PoP-liposomes, the balloons are comprised of the organic pigment chlorophyll. Due to their unique composition, the balloons can completely encapsulate chemotherapy drugs and shield them from healthy body parts. After trapping the drugs, the balloons are injected into the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. After this, the researchers shine a red laser at the tumor site in order to open the balloons and release the drugs.

Once the laser is turned off, the balloons close back up and take small amounts of proteins and molecules in the surrounding area. The researchers hope that they can analyze the contents of the balloons by drawing blood or taking a biopsy of the area. The method was carried out on mice with tumors formed on the surface of their skin. After a few chemotherapy treatments with the balloons, the mice were completely free of cancer. Not only did it cure the cancer, but less drugs had to be administered because they had not come in contact with areas of the body that did not need them.

The biggest downside of using chemotherapy drugs are the side effects that come with them. These include nausea, fatigue, hair-loss, and diarrhea. These nanoballoons could have the potential to stop these side effects and much more effectively treat tumors. For cancer patients that have tumors in spots where they cannot be removed, the balloons could be a life saver.

Link to article: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/140403/ncomms4546/full/ncomms4546.html

Source: Kevin Carter, Shuai Shao, Matthew I. Hoopes, Dandan Luo, Bilal Ahsan, Vladimir Grigoryants, Wentao Song, Haoyuan Huang, Guojian Zhang, Ravindra K. Pandey, Jumin Geng, Blaine Pfeifer, Charles Scholes, Joaquin Ortega, Mikko Karttunnen, Jonathan F. Lovell, Nature Communications, April 3, 2014





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