When a patient presents with brain cancer the biggest issue to circumvent is the delicacy of the brain and treating it. After all what is effectively being done is killing brain tissue that has become ‘diseased’ by transformation into cancerous cells. So whichever method of cancer treatment you use there are going to be inherent side-effects.
The aim would then be to target the diseased tissues only, limiting any damage you would cause to the healthy neuronal networks of the brain. This is one of the major causes of side-effects seen in cancer sufferers.
The answer is nanomedicine utilizing nanoparticles consisting of inorganic titanium dioxide interfaced with soft biological material. This allows nanomaterials to be put into use for biomedical applications.
What has been demonstrated is that these nanoparticles can be effectively targeted towards a specific target tissue. This was made easier by the fact that brain cancer has a unique receptor that can be targeted giving the treatment its specificity.
The specificity is conferred by the nanoparticles bound soft biological material, which in this instance is an antibody. Antibodies have incredibly specialized binding sites that will recognize a specific protein region known as the antibodies antigen. This allows for the antibodies to bind with high specificity to certain regions of the diseased cells. In this case the antigen is a diseased cells cell surface receptor.
Once the antibody has been bound to its target light can be shone on the nanoparticle. This causes the formation of oxygen free radicals. These free radicals will go into the cell and attack the cell’s DNA and mitochondria (the cell’s every production organelle). Once this is noticed the mitochondria will release chemical messengers to signal the cell to undergo a process of programmed death known as apoptosis.
What was most amazing is that it took only six hours of shining light on the nanoparticles to induce elevated cellular toxicity rates in almost 100% of the cancerous cells. With further enhancement it is foreseeable that you could be diagnosed with cancer and within a few days and some light treatment obliterating most of your diseased cells.
The technique is at the stage of pre-clinical model testing with a view to develop it further for a clinical setting.
What this means, more importantly, is a far less barbaric approach to cancer treatment that doesn’t fall under the slash, poison and burn headings of treatment. Leaving the patient with noticeable side-effects. This may pave the way for treatments that are vastly more effective and at the same time have no side-effects – CT
Source: Science Daily