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May 13th, 2009
Korean chemists have assembled a multitalented nanoparticle that can hunt down, treat, and illuminate cancerous cells. The therapy combines diagnosis, treatment, and real-time monitoring of cancer progression, and although it may be several years before it reaches the market, it is a bold step towards useful nanoparticle-based medicine.
'We have created a new type of magnetic nanoparticle that is designed to target only highly cancerous cells without harming normal cells,' says Jinwoo Cheon, who led the research with Tae Gwan Park at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. 'The particle is effective at delivering treatments to the cells and also has strong MRI and optical imaging capabilities.'
The particle has four key components. The core is a magnetic iron oxide nanoparticle, which can act as a contrast agent for MRI. Attached to the surface of this nanoparticle is the second component - a peptide that binds to integrin, a receptor found in higher quantities on the surface of cancerous cells. This allows the particle to tightly grip onto the target cells.
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