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Star Trek coming to life: Nanobot cancer cure [article and link]

Von: ToolPackinMama (philnblanc@comcast.net) [Profil]
Datum: 24.03.2010 21:53
Message-ID: <hodu5a$nnl$1@news.eternal-september.org>
Newsgroup: alt.startrek alt.tv.star-trek.tos
Nanotech robots deliver gene therapy through blood
Julie Steenhuysen
CHICAGO
Sun Mar 21, 2010 2:08pm EDT

[Found here:  http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62K1BK20100321 ]


CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. researchers have developed tiny nanoparticle
robots that can travel through a patient's blood and into tumors where
they deliver a therapy that turns off an important cancer gene.

The finding, reported in the journal Nature on Sunday, offers early
proof that a new treatment approach called RNA interference or RNAi
might work in people.

RNA stands for ribonucleic acid -- a chemical messenger that is emerging
as a key player in the disease process.

Dozens of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies including Alnylam,
Merck, Pfizer, Novartis and Roche are looking for ways to manipulate RNA
to block genes that make disease-causing proteins involved in cancer,
blindness or AIDS.

But getting the treatment to the right target in the body has presented
a challenge.

A team at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena used
nanotechnology -- the science of really small objects -- to create tiny
polymer robots covered with a protein called transferrin that seek out a
receptor or molecular doorway on many different types of tumors.

"This is the first study to be able to go in there and show it's doing
its mechanism of action," said Mark Davis, a professor of chemical
engineering, who led the study.

"We're excited about it because there is a lot of skepticism whenever
any new technology comes in," said Davis, a consultant to privately held
Calando Pharmaceuticals Inc, which is developing the therapy.

Other teams are using fats or lipids to deliver the therapy to the
treatment target. Pfizer last week announced a deal with Canadian
biotech Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp for this type of delivery vehicle
for its RNAi drugs, joining Roche and Alnylam.

In the approach used by Davis and colleagues, once the particles find
the cancer cell and get inside, they break down, releasing small
interfering RNAs or siRNAs that block a gene that makes a cancer growth
protein called ribonucleotide reductase.

"In the particle itself, we've built what we call a chemical sensor,"
Davis said in a telephone interview. "When it recognizes that it's gone
inside the cell, it says OK, now it's time to disassemble and give off
the RNA."

In a phase 1 clinical trial in patients with various types of tumors,
the team gave doses of the targeted nanoparticles four times over 21
days in a 30-minute intravenous infusion.

Tumor samples taken from three people with melanoma showed the
nanoparticles found their way inside tumor cells.

And they found evidence that the therapy had disabled ribonucleotide
reductase, suggesting the RNA had done its job.

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