Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nanomeds Fighting Cancer

Image Explanation: Left: Navigation using magnetic resonance in the hepatic artery. Right: Image of liver using magnetic resonance. Key: Blue dots represent therapeutic magnetic microcarriers (TMMC); + represent anticancer agents; Red oval is part of the liver; Red bar is the catheter. (Credit: Image courtesy of Polytechnique Montréal)


Professor Sylvain Martel announced a new breakthrough in the field of nanomedicine. His team of colleagues has developed a way to magnetically transport small capsules, filled with an anti-cancer drug, directly to an area afflicted with cancer. As many are familiar, one of the main ways to fight cancer is with chemotherapy. Chemotherapy conventionally involves an intravenous drip of chemicals that work their way through the body and hopefully attack cancer cells. Where Martel's development trumps traditional chemotherapy, is that the chemicals don't have to circulate through the entire body, but instead, can be navigated directly to the cancer site before releasing their medication.

For a list of the side effects of chemotherapy, please visit this link at There are so many side effects because the chemotherapy is literally built to kill cancer cells in the body, and along the way, it can wreak havoc on the bodies various organs because of its toxicity.

Martel is heading in the right direction. Making these drugs easier to deliver is a big step to making cancer treatments more effective and less harmful to the human body. With the patent being submitted to the US patent office recently, we may be seeing tests with FDA soon, and hopefully approved. Within this article, there is no indication on the cost of producing the tiny microcarriers, but I would hope that the treatment would be accessible to the public, and not just the wealthy. Insurance Companies should see that the localized treatment will cut the costs relating to complications with chemotherapy, and it should keep their clients alive longer to pay insurance premiums.

Where will this new technology lead? A valid question, but a somewhat easy answer. Being built on the platform of being to target cancerous areas, is a great way to get these microcarriers in the limelight. Of course we can venture to guess that this new technology could be formulated to deliver a wide array of medication and treatment to various parts of the body.

Study Guide Questions:

1. How are the capsules directed to the target site?

2. What is the name of the scientists who is featured in this article and what is his title?

3. How big are the capsules and from what are they made?


Polytechnique MontrĂ©al. "World first: Localized delivery of an anti-cancer drug by remote-controlled microcarriers." ScienceDaily 18 March 2011. 20 March 2011­/releases/2011/03/110316084417.htm.

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