Finding a Tumor’s ‘Address’ With Nanotechnology

The use of nanoparticles in finding cancerous cells make it easier to treat patients without the need to undergo chemotherapy / Photo by Kateryna Kon via 123RF


There are many side effects when people undergo chemotherapy, which is why the treatment is considered risky and generally looked at as a last resort. One of the reasons for this is it is incredibly painful for the patient, as this kind of therapy does not care about what it kills. Chemotherapy can kill the target's surrounding microenvironment as well. Recently, researchers from Purdue University developed a technique that can make it easier for cancer treatment to find the right ‘address’ in the body, while minimizing the pain from chemotherapy.

Yoon Yeo, a professor of industrial and physical pharmacy at Purdue and one of the lead researchers of this project, stated, “The traditional approach is similar to a delivery driver trying to drop off a package to a certain person without knowing their specific address. Our new approach provides directions to find the specific address to deliver the chemotherapeutic drugs.” This is important for this industry as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that there are more than 650,000 cancer patients that receive chemotherapy in the United States alone. This is a problem due to the negative side effects that can lead to further hospitalization or even death. The new method uses nanoparticles which are used to target tumors for chemotherapy. They used these polyol-modified nanoparticles to find cancerous cells and tumors by examining the blood vessels surrounding the tumors. It then works with the vascular lining to enter these tumors and destroy them. This method makes it much easier to treat cancer patients without the need for extensive chemotherapy. This can essentially make it so that only lower dosages are required while the drugs take care of the rest, resulting in less damage to normal tissues.

Currently, this new technology is patented through the Office of Technology Commercialization at the university. They are looking for partners to to help distribute this technique to different healthcare centers all over the world.