Nanoparticle drug delivery for cancer treatment offers hope for faster remission.
Phenformin-loaded nanoparticles targeted both kinds of cancer cells in a mouse model of human lung cancer. ~ Yi Yan Yang, The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore
Scorched Earth Treatment
We cure cancer with poison. Well, we don’t really cure it. Rather, we beat it into remission with the brute force of chemotherapy. The method is akin to attacking an enemy army with a nuclear bomb. Yes, it wipes most of them out, but it also makes the uninhabitable unless you’re a cockroach or a Twinkie. Cancer stem cells tent to survive, which means that even after we nuke cancer with chemo, it can resurrect like an army of zombies. We need better weapons in our arsenal against cancer—something that just takes out the bad guys and leaves everything else alone. Instead of a nuclear bomb, we need snipers.
Enter the Trojan Horse: Nanoparticles
Researchers at The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore are using self-assembling polymer nanoparticles to deliver toxic drugs to only cancer cells and cancer stem cells. The nanoparticles released the drug in a sustained manner due to their hydrophilic shells, which “prevent enzymatic degradation of the cargo and protein adsorption onto the nanoparticles,” explains Yang. “This also prolongs blood circulation so that the cargo-loaded nanoparticles have enough time to accumulate in tumor tissues.”
In the Wrong Hands
Wouldn’t it be great if we could develop a first-aid device that uses nanotechnology to diagnose and cure injuries and disease? What would happen if this device were lost and someone in a primitive culture discovered it?
This happened the in short story Child of the Stone. When an old peasant in medieval Spain unearths an ancient box, he discovers a power that will change his life. A silver plate promises to bring him and his wife out of poverty, but the true treasure lies hidden in another artifact: a simple stone. Once he discovers the stone’s powers, he must either tell the truth and forfeit it to the authorities, or let his greed corrupt it.