Sunday, September 12, 2004

One down, tumor to go

Magnets could pull cancer drugs to tumours

New Scientist, 16:23 08 September 04, by Anna Gosline

“It’s a new way of driving drugs around the body. Drug trafficking, if you will,” says Andrew Harrison, a materials chemist at the University of Edinburgh, who is developing the technique.

“If you tether the drug to a small magnetic particle, then you can use an external magnetic field to make sure it gets to the appropriate part of the body - and stays there,” he says. ...

In theory, doctors would inject ironbound drugs in liquid solution and then immediately draw them towards tumours with a magnetic field. The particles would not only deliver concentrated doses of strong medication, but they could also easily be sequestered in a limited area of the patient’s body.

One of the team’s prime inspirations for these particles comes from bacteria. Magnetotactic bacteria, discovered in the 1970s, produce their own tiny magnetic particles packed in proteins and lipids that provide a good attachment site for organic drugs.

Unfortunately, this family of bacteria is hard to grow in culture and produces extremely small yields of particles. Scientists have identified a cluster of genes that they think controls particle production.

Eureka! We're only a couple dozens stone's throws away from creating Magneto!

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