Scientists to investigate 'magic-bullet' cancer therapy

4th March 2013

Scientists at the University of Sheffield will investigate a new ‘magic-bullet’ cancer therapy that exploits tumour cells’ greed for fat, following an award from Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Higher rates of the most deadly cancers, such as colorectal and breast cancer, have been linked to obesity or high fat diets because cancer cells use fat to grow larger and more dangerous. They are able to uptake fat by producing large amounts of structures on their surfaces called receptors, which allow chemicals to bind with the cell.

Dr Irene Canton, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Biomedical Science, plans to produce smart nanoparticles that are taken up by two of the main receptors, known as SR-B1 and CD36. These nanoparticles could then be used to carry therapies directly to the cancer cells, without affecting healthy cells.

Dr Canton said: “Much hope in cancer research is coming from molecular biology and biotechnology. However, the use of biomolecular-based therapeutics is heavily restricted by the lack of a ‘magic-bullet’ therapy that overcomes problems such as solubility, drug stability and a lack of specificity.

“We have very strong reasons to believe that nanotechnology can help here. To prove this, we will screen many different formulations with slight changes in the surface of the nanoparticles. This will provide vital information as to whether they are good enough to link with the SR-B1 and CD36 receptors.

“These nanoparticles could be the necessary ‘magic-bullets’ to save many lives affected by the worst types of cancers. Our proposal takes a step closer to patient-tailored strategies, allowing the delivery of therapeutic bio-molecules and restricting side effects of existing drugs.”





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