Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > New cancer weapon: nuclear nanocapsules

Abstract:
Rice University chemists have found a way to package some of nature's most powerful radioactive particles inside carbon nanotubes. Alpha-particle radiation is so powerful that cancer cells can be destroyed with just one direct hit from an alpha particle on a cell nucleus. Rice's researchers hope to use their new technology to target tiny tumors and even lone leukemia cells. Their research is available online from the journal Small.

New cancer weapon: nuclear nanocapsules

Houston, TX | Posted on August 23rd, 2007

Nanotubes packing powerful alpha-emitters could target lone cancer cells

Rice University chemists have found a way to package some of nature's most powerful radioactive particles inside DNA-sized tubes of pure carbon -- a method they hope to use to target tiny tumors and even lone leukemia cells.

"There are no FDA-approved cancer therapies that employ alpha-particle radiation," said lead researcher Lon Wilson, professor of chemistry. "Approved therapies that use beta particles are not well-suited for treating cancer at the single-cell level because it takes thousands of beta particles to kill a lone cell. By contrast, cancer cells can be destroyed with just one direct hit from an alpha particle on a cell nucleus."

The study's results are available online and slated to appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Small.

In the study, Wilson, Rice graduate student Keith Hartman, University of Washington (UW) radiation oncologist Scott Wilbur and UW research scientist Donald Hamlin, developed and tested a process to load astatine atoms inside short sections of carbon nanotubes. Because astatine is the rarest naturally occurring element on Earth -- with less than a teaspoon estimated to exist in the Earth's crust at any given time -- the research was conducted using astatine created in a UW cyclotron.

Astatine, like radium and uranium, emits alpha particles via radioactive decay. Alpha particles, which contain two protons and two neutrons, are the most massive particles emitted as radiation. They are about 4,000 times more massive than the electrons emitted by beta decay -- the type of radiation most commonly used to treat cancer.

"It's something like the difference between a cannon shell and a BB," Wilson said. "The extra mass increases the amount of damage alpha particles can inflict on cancer cells."

The speed of radioactive particles is also an important factor in medical use. Beta particles travel very fast. This, combined with their small size, gives them significant penetrating power. In cancer treatment, for example, beams of beta particles can be created outside the patient's body and directed at tumors. Alpha particles move much more slowly, and because they are also massive, they have very little penetrating power. They can be stopped by something as flimsy as tissue paper.

"The unique combination of low penetrating power and large particle mass make alpha particle ideal for targeting cancer at the single-cell level," Wilson said. "The difficulty in developing ways to use them to treat cancer has come in finding ways to deliver them quickly and directly to the cancer site."

In prior work, Wilson and colleagues developed techniques to attach antibodies to carbon fullerenes like nanotubes. Antibodies are proteins produced by white blood cells. Each antibody is designed to recognize and bind only with a specific antigen, and doctors have identified a host of cancer-specific antibodies that can be used to kill cancer cells.

In follow-up research, Wilson hopes to test the single-celled cancer targeting approach by attaching cancer-specific antibodies to astatine-loaded nanotubes.

One complicating factor in any astatine-based cancer therapy will be the element's short, 7.5-hour half-life. In radioactive decay, the term half-life refers to the time required for any quantity of a substance to decay by half its initial mass. Due to astatine's brief half-life, any treatment must be delivered in a timely way, before the particles lose their potency.

The research was funded by the Welch Foundation, Rice's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology, NASA's Johnson Space Center, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the National Cancer Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Carbon nanotubes were provided by Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc.

####

About Rice University

Rice University is consistently ranked one of America’s best teaching and research universities. It is distinguished by its: size—2,850 undergraduates and 1,950 graduate students; selectivity—10 applicants for each place in the freshman class; resources—an undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio of 6-to-1, and the fifth largest endowment per student among American universities; residential college system, which builds communities that are both close-knit and diverse; and collaborative culture, which crosses disciplines, integrates teaching and research, and intermingles undergraduate and graduate work. Rice’s wooded campus is located in the nation’s fourth largest city and on America’s South Coast.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Jade Boyd
PHONE: 713-348-6778

Copyright © Rice University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes

Captured on video: DNA nanotubes build a bridge between 2 molecular posts: Research may lead to new lines of direct communication with cells January 9th, 2017

Nano-chimneys can cool circuits: Rice University scientists calculate tweaks to graphene would form phonon-friendly cones January 4th, 2017

WPI researchers build liquid biopsy chip that detects metastatic cancer cells in blood December 15th, 2016

Infrared instrumentation leader secures exclusive use of Vantablack coating December 5th, 2016

Nanomedicine

New, old science combine to make faster medical test: Nanoparticles and Faraday rotation allow faster diagnoses January 23rd, 2017

New research helps to meet the challenges of nanotechnology: Research helps to make the most of nanoscale catalytic effects for nanotechnology January 20th, 2017

Chemists Cook up New Nanomaterial and Imaging Method: Nanomaterials can store all kinds of things, including energy, drugs and other cargo January 19th, 2017

'5-D protein fingerprinting' could give insights into Alzheimer's, Parkinson's January 19th, 2017

Discoveries

The speed limit for intra-chip communications in microprocessors of the future January 23rd, 2017

New, old science combine to make faster medical test: Nanoparticles and Faraday rotation allow faster diagnoses January 23rd, 2017

Traffic jam in empty space: New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum January 22nd, 2017

A big nano boost for solar cells: Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies January 21st, 2017

Announcements

The speed limit for intra-chip communications in microprocessors of the future January 23rd, 2017

New, old science combine to make faster medical test: Nanoparticles and Faraday rotation allow faster diagnoses January 23rd, 2017

Traffic jam in empty space: New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum January 22nd, 2017

A big nano boost for solar cells: Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies January 21st, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project