radiationmeasure.jpgResearch led by RMIT University has shown that cheap, non-toxic nanoparticles can enhance radiotherapy treatments for cancer.

An international team of researchers led by RMIT has investigated alternatives to gold nanoparticles, which have been shown to concentrate radiation used to treat cancer but are highly expensive and mildly toxic.

Doctoral researcher Mamdooh Alqathami said the team had identified bismuth as an ideal option, with tests showing that enhancing radiotherapy by using nanoparticles containing the heavy metal almost doubled the dose of radiation to surrounding cancerous tissue.

"By enhancing radiation in the tumour, doctors may be able to decrease the initial dose of radiotherapy, which will hopefully result in fewer side effects for the patient while having the same impact on the cancer," Mr Alqathami, a researcher in the School of Medical Sciences, said.

by Michael Brown

Semi-porous hollow nanospheres could improve the delivery of anti-leukaemia drugs in the body claim scientists in China. 

L-asparaginase is a very effective anti-tumour enzyme used to treat leukaemia. However, its harmful side effects limit its clinical use. Chemical modification of the enzyme results in a large loss of activity and previous drug delivery systems have been unable to prevent leakage into the blood. 

patrick mcgowanDrugs made using unusual metals could form an effective treatment against colon and ovarian cancer, including cancerous cells that have developed immunity to other drugs, according to research at the University of Warwick and the University of Leeds.

The study, published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, showed that a range of compounds containing the two transition metals Ruthenium and Osmium, which are found in the same part of the periodic table as precious metals like platinum and gold, cause significant cell death in ovarian and colon cancer cells.

Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have developed a new way to deliver drugs into cancer cells by exposing them briefly to a non-harmful laser. Their results are published in a recent article in ACS NANO, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

"This entirely novel tool will allow biologists to investigate how genes function by providing them with temporal and spatial control over when a gene is turned on or off," explained Norbert Reich, senior author and a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCSB. "In a nutshell, what we describe is the ability to control genes in cells –– and we are working on doing this in animals –– simply by briefly exposing them to a non-harmful laser."

Researchers use novel stem-cell method to discover chemical with potency against breast tumors in mice

A team of researchers led by the Whitehead and Broad Institutes has discovered a chemical that works in mice to kill the rare but aggressive cells within breast cancers that have the ability to seed new tumors.

These cells, known as cancer stem cells, are thought to enable cancers to spread - and to re-emerge after seemingly successful treatment. Although further work is needed to determine whether this specific chemical holds therapeutic promise for humans, the study shows that it is possible to find chemicals that selectively kill cancer stem cells. The scientists' findings appear in the Aug. 13 advance online issue of Cell.

by Laura Beil

In a traditional scientific study, the drug that saved Elizabeth Alexander’s life would have been deemed a failure. An associate professor of history at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, Alexander was diagnosed with metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer in 2000. She took Herceptin (trastuzumab), a drug that targets the HER2 molecule overproduced in about 20 percent of breast cancers.

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This news service is provided by Good Samaritan Institute, located in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

GSI is a non-profit dedicated to the advancement of medical research by improving communication among scientists.