A group of scientists at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has created a process whereby nanotubes can be injected into cells to discover if chemotherapy drugs are reaching their intended destination.
According to information released by the university, the nanotubes are carbon-based tubes that have been covered in DNA so that they can be injected into healthy tissue. The tubes can detect chemotherapy agents as well as toxins in the body.
In a recent statement, Michael Strano, professor of chemical engineering at MIT, said “We’ve made a sensor that can be placed in living cells, healthy or malignant, and actually detect several different classes of molecules that damage DNA.”
In studies done at other universities such as Stanford, scientists found additional ways to use nanotechnology to target cancer cells. One such study found a way for researchers to use nanotubes as “targeted medicinal delivery vehicles” to deliver chemotherapy drugs to cancer cells. This will enable doctors to use less chemotherapy medication and will decrease the severity of side effects.
At the University of California, San Diego researchers also found a new way to use nanotechnology to “bomb” tumors which helps keep surrounding tissue from being affected by the disease. This new treatment seems to keep the cancer from spreading to other areas of the body and causes less damage than other, traditional chemotherapy treatments.
The recent MIT report may prove invaluable in helping doctors monitor cancer patient’s progress.
MIT graduate student Daniel Heller said in a statement, “You could figure out not only where the drugs are, but [also] whether a drug is active or not.”
The nanotubes in the MIT study work by emitting florescent light which researchers can use to identify various agents within the body. Changes in the light’s intensity will allow doctors to determine what they are seeing in the body.
The MIT report also describes the usage of this technology as it relates to antioxidants. Researchers are hopeful it will allow them to better understand how to use chemotherapy drugs.