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Smart Bomb Drug Zaps Cancer Cells In Mice


New Member
Nov 10, 2004
A smart anti-cancer bomb that acts like a Trojan horse can penetrate deep into tumours where it explodes and destroys cancerous cells without harming healthy ones, scientists said on Wednesday.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who devised the molecular size bomb tested it in mice with skin or lung cancer. Mice given the treatment lived more than three times longer than untreated rodents.

The scientists believe it could have the same effect in humans.

"We're quite hopeful and optimistic that as we translate this into humans the results pan out as they have in animals," Professor Ram Sasisekharan, of MIT's Biological Engineering Division, said in an interview.

The smart bomb uses nanotechnology which manipulates materials on a molecular or atomic scale, to deliver chemotherapy drugs to destroy the tumour and anti-angiogenesis agents to block its blood supply.

After the bomb, which is like a balloon within a balloon, is injected into the bloodstream it travels to the tumour and burrows deep inside. The outer membrane then disintegrates and releases an anti-angiogenesis drug so the blood vessels feeding the tumour collapse.


The drug-packed nanocell trapped inside the tumour explodes unleashing the chemotherapy drug to kill the cancerous cells. No healthy cells are destroyed so debilitating side effects such as hair loss, vomiting, nausea and weight loss could be eliminated.

"If you don't really shut the supply lines the tumour cells can escape and that is how they metastasise (spread). By killing the supply lines you are limiting the leaching of the chemotherapy agents to the healthy cells," Sasisekharan said.

Eighty percent of the mice treated with the nanocell bomb lived longer than 65 days while rodents receiving the best chemotherapy lasted only 30.

Mice that had no treatment died at 20 days.

The smart bomb was more effective against melanoma than lung cancer which the scientists, who reported the findings in the science journal Nature, said shows the need to change the design of the bomb to attack different types of cancer.

"It's an elegant technique for attacking the two compartments of a tumour, its vascular system and the cancer cells," Judah Folkman, a cancer expert at the Children's Hospital Boston, said in a statement.

Because the smart bomb, which is a new approach to drug delivery, uses existing drugs and materials the researchers think it could have a similar impact in humans.