Monday, April 28, 2014

Nanoparticles May Replace Chemo and Radiation

Using magnetically controlled nanoparticles to force tumor cells to self-destruct could be a future part of cancer treatment—replacing chemotherapy—according to research from Lund University in Sweden. The technique is much more targeted and less harmful than trying to kill cancer cells with toxic techniques such as chemotherapy, which damages other cells and radiation, which affects surrounding tissue.

The research, published in the journal ACD Nano, is a collaboration between physicists, chemists, engineers and doctors from Sweden, Germany and the United States.  

“Our technique is able to attack only the tumor cells," said Enming Zhang, one of the first authors of the study.

The technique places the nanoparticles into a tumour cell, where they bind to lysosomes, which break down foreign substances that have entered a cell and can also break down the entire cell.

Researchers used nanoparticles of iron oxide treated with a special form of magnetism. Once the particles are inside the cancer cells, the cells are exposed to a magnetic field, and the nanoparticles begin to rotate in a way that causes the lysosomes to start destroying the cells.

Previous research on supermagnetic nanoparticles has focused on using the magnetic field to create heat that kills the cancer cells.  But this can cause inflammation that risks harming surrounding, healthy tissue. The method developed at Lund  only affects the tumor cells that the nanoparticles have entered.

While primarily intended for cancer treatment, the technique can also be applied to autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, in which the immune system attacks the body’s own insulin production.

The researchers at Lund University have a patent pending for their technique with rotating nanoparticles, although they acknowledge that  work remains before it can be transferred from the laboratory to clinical trials on patients.

—Information from a news release from Lund University.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Vegetables and Fruits Show Benefits for ER-negative Breast Cancer

Eating fruits and vegetables reduced the risk of estrogen-negative breast cancer, even though it had no effect on other kinds of breast cancer, according to a study that analyzed research from 20 previous studies and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Vegetables were slightly better than fruits.

Because researchers were looking at studies that had already been done, they could not control the types and amounts of vegetables and fruits that were studied.  Some of the studies, though, have shown that five servings a day are beneficial, with no added benefit for more than that.  This includes broccoli, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables, plus apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, apricots, strawberries, carrots, and lettuce.

Researchers noted that, because of their "high protein or starch content," mature beans and potatoes were excluded. Pickled fruit and vegetables were also excluded "because they contain potentially carcinogenic nitrates and preservatives."

Data were analyzed on 24, 673 breast cancer survivors; 4821 of these were estrogen-negative.  Because not all studies included Her2 status, researchers did not specifically consider cases of TNBC, although other research shows that results from ER-negative studies often translate to TNBC cases.

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