The fight against cancer is one that has been going on for more than a few decades. It is common knowledge that there are so many different types of cancer, each having its own different strengths and weaknesses.
Many of us believe that the most important characteristic of a drug is its “strength”, meaning how hard it can attack the targeted virus, bacteria or, in our case, tumor. Even though the importance of this trait is undeniable, there are also some other important characteristics of a treatment product that play vital roles. One of them is the degree to which the drug can enter the infected cells. For the first time ever, scientists have achieved a crucial breakthrough.
After the invention of drugs in the size of nanoparticles, a new question emerged. What is the possible shape that will allow them to go through the known barriers that a cell has?
A new method used in fluorescence microscopy, an invention that was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2014, has allowed researchers to look directly at the way the nanoparticles are traveling in real time. After this phenomenal success, all that was required was an experiment to decide which shape would offer the best results.
A scientific team, based in the University of South Wales in Australia, used a cancer drug called doxorubicin as a basis, and created 4 different groups of nanoparticles. The first two groups were vesicles and micelles, both spheres with slight differences; the third one was given the shape of worms while the last one’s particles looked like rods.
The results were a tie between the third and the fourth group, since both the worms and the rods reached the targeted cell’s nucleus without facing any problems while both of the sphere types were unable to do so.
According to the team and also medical experts in general, the advantages of this new discovery are huge. Not only we can now create drugs that are more effective than ever before, but the existing ones, especially the ones used in chemotherapy, will have fewer side effects since they can now be “tweaked” to recognize a specific cell structure and enter only the cancer cells. This is possible simply because these cells are organized and arranged differently than the healthy ones.
We are witnessing the birth of a great advancement towards defeating cancer, and even though it is not a completely new type of treatment, it still has huge value since it can improve our “weapons” against the disease in many ways, perhaps even some that we have not realized yet.