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Scientists from the DOE's Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago's Brain Tumor Center have developed a way to target brain cancer cells using inorganic titanium dioxide nanoparticles bonded to soft biological material.
Thousands of people die from malignant brain tumors every year, and the tumors are resistant to conventional therapies. This nano-bio technology may eventually provide an alternative form of therapy that targets only cancer cells and does not affect normal living tissue.
"It is a real example of how nano- and biological interfacing can be used for biomedical applications," said scientist Elena Rozhkova of Argonne's Center for Nanoscale Materials. "We chose brain cancer because of its difficulty in treatment and its unique receptors."
This new therapy relies on a two-pronged approach. Titanium dioxide is a versatile photoreactive nanomaterial that can be bonded to biomolecules. When linked to an antibody, these nanoparticles recognize and bind specifically to cancer cells. When scientists shine focused light onto the affected region, the localized titanium dioxide reacts by creating free oxygen radicals that interact with the mitochondria in the cancer cells. Mitochondria act as cellular energy plants, and when free radicals interfere with their biochemical pathways, they receive a signal to start cell death.
About DOE Pulse
DOE Pulse highlights work being done at the Department of Energy's national laboratories. DOE's laboratories house world-class facilities where more than 30,000 scientists and engineers perform cutting-edge research spanning DOE's science, energy, National security and environmental quality missions. DOE Pulse is distributed twice each month. Each issue will include research highlights, updates on collaborations among laboratories, and profiles of individual researchers.
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