Nanotechnology may change the way people treat cancer

Whenever a person hears the word cancer, they usually assume that death is imminent. They know that they will have to endure many chemotherapy treatments, and those often have severe side effects that damage certain parts of the body. However, the University of Buffalo may have found a way to eliminate the cancer, without any damage to the body and other vital organs.

Jonathan Lovell, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and his team have developed their own concepts which they call nanoballoons. 1000 times smaller than a human hair, these balloons are comprised of chlorophyll and phospholipid, which is a fat similar to vegetable oil. Due to this combination, these balloons are capable of completely absorbing and capturing the anti-cancer drugs, and they also shield the drugs from other bodily systems. Once the drugs are trapped inside of the balloons, the drugs are then injected directly into the bloodstream and diffuse throughout the body. Once at their destination, the researchers “pop” the balloons with a red laser, which then releases the drugs. The balloons then close once the laser is not pointed on the balloons, allowing for the drugs to be released during the patient’s treatment.

To test this method, the team used mice that had tumors growing on the surface of their skin. Using the balloons and the laser, the mice were entirely cured of their tumors after only a few treatments. Also, since the drugs did not reach the rest of their system, the researchers were able to use only minimal amounts of drugs to cure the mice.

Following the experiment, Professor Lovell believes that this drug delivery technique could have a significant effect on the future of treating cancer patients. He comments that “I think the most immediate impact would be affecting people who are suffering from conditions where a tumor cannot be removed, but that tumor is causing extreme quality of life issues, such as bowel blockages and things like pancreas malfunction,” Lovell said. “…And eventually, if there are other tumors that are locally advanced, but haven’t spread to distant places, this may be a good treatment to treat a big tumor before it spreads.”

Only time will tell if this method becomes an effective way to treat cancer, and help patients live normal and happier lives.

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