Nanomagnets to help cells target malignant tumours

April 22nd, 2008 - 1:05 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, April 22 (IANS) Researchers have hit upon the idea of inserting nanomagnets into cells to target tumours more lethally, possibly heralding “a new era in gene therapy”. This new technique could also help deliver therapeutic genes in other diseases like arthritic joints or ischemic heart tissue.

Using human cells as delivery vehicles for anti-cancer gene therapy has long been an attractive approach for treating tumours, but these cells reach tumours in insufficient numbers to effectively attack them.

The new ‘magnetic targeting’ method that overcomes this problem has been developed by Claire Lewis of University of Sheffield, Jon Dobson at University of Keele and Helen Byrne and Giles Richardson of the University of Nottingham.

Dobson admitted “though the concept. . . has been around for decades, major technical hurdles have prevented its translation into a clinical therapy. By harnessing and enhancing the monocytes’ (white blood cells) innate targeting abilities, this technique offers great potential to overcome some of these barriers and bring the technology closer to the clinic”.

This research was published online in Gene Therapy on April 17.

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