Nanotechnology applied to cancer treatments

20 August 2012

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

Researchers in the US have developed a new process that can shut off cancer genes in mice and could lead to the creation of future treatments in the field of oncology.

According to the experts from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), nanoparticles can be used to improve the screening of potential drug targets.

Working with colleagues at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad Institute, the team employed short strands of RNA delivered by nanoparticles to provide rapid screening of potential treatments in mice.

The research indicated that targeting a protein known as ID4 in this way was found to shrink ovarian tumours, with the technique allowing scientists to "go after" undruggable proteins.

Writing in the online edition of Science Translational Medicine, the MIT scientists explained that the breakthrough could help to remove a bottleneck in the development of treatments for cancer and "open up a whole new class of targets".

"What we did was try to set forth a pipeline where you start with all of the targets that are pouring out of genomics and you sequentially filter them through a mouse model to figure out which ones are important," wrote Sangeeta Bhatia, John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.

Further MIT research has employed nanotechnology in the development of electrical devices, with a team from the university finding that nanocrystals employed in the manufacture of high-resolution display screens, electronic or photonic circuits, biomolecule detectors and solar cells could be placed in defect-free patterns.

According to the specialists, they have found a way of controlling the shape and position of nanocrystal films using nanoscale resolution, which could open up a range of new applications in the field of nanotechnology.

Writing in the online edition of Nano Letters, they explained that the defect-free films they developed offered around 180 times the electrical conductivity of traditional cracked films.

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