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Another Double-Duty Use For Nanoparticles

August 3, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Interventional Radiology, Neuroradiology
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Suddenly, nanoparticles are big. We’ve been inundated with imaging-related nanoparticle news in recent weeks. The latest breakthrough comes from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, where researchers have demonstrated how iron oxide nanoparticles can deliver cancer-fighting antibodies to brain tumors while also enhancing tumor visibility via MRI.

The study, published online by the journal Cancer Research, describes the use of iron oxide nanoparticles to fight glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and most aggressive primary brain tumor in humans. The lead author, Costas Hadjipanayis, MD, PhD, is assistant professor of neurosurgery at Emory School of Medicine, director of Emory’s Brain Tumor Nanotechnology Laboratory, and chief of neurosurgery service at Emory University Hospital Midtown.

Dr. Hadjipanayis and his team coated the magnetic nanoparticles (10 nanometers across) with a polymer and linked (bioconjugated) them to antibodies directed against a molecule that appears on the surface of GBM cells. The molecule is present in about a third of GMBs but not in normal brain cells. It drives GBM cell growth and causes the tumors to be resistant to radiation and chemotherapy.

However, it’s no match for the antibodies linked to the nanoparticles. The researchers, using mice implanted with tumors, found that the particles bind to and kill human GBM cells but do not harm normal human astrocytes, which make up the majority of cells in the brain.

The nanoparticles also made the tumor visible (as a dark area) via MRI. And, because they are magnetic, they may even have an extra cancer-fighting effect. The Brain Tumor Nanotechnology Laboratory is researching the use of alternating magnetic fields to heat them enough to cause tumor ablation.

Planned next are canine and human trials, according to an Emory news release.

Related seminar: Neuro & Musculoskeletal Imaging

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