Mice cured of cancer thanks to UCLA's nanoparticles

It's nice to see some good news for lab mice, since good news for them can lead to good news for us--in this case, for cancer patients. Researchers at UCLA grabbed a few white, furry "volunteers" and implanted human cancerous tumors in them. Then, a promising thing happened. The researchers injected the mice with mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs), tiny particles with thousands of pores that can carry the anti-cancer drug camptothecin, and the mice came out of it with clean bills of health.

This has been a longtime goal of nanobiotechnology -- the ability to tailor a nano-sized drug delivery agent for a specific purpose, drop its payload only on the bad cancer cells and then safely make its way out of the body. 

"Two properties of these nanoparticles are important," said Jie Lu, a postdoctoral fellow. "First, their ability to accumulate in tumors is excellent. They appear to evade the surveillance mechanism that normally removes materials foreign to the body. Second, most of the nanoparticles that were injected into the mice were excreted out through urine and feces within four days. The latter results are quite interesting and might explain the low toxicity observed in the biocompatabilty experiments we conducted."

Researchers at UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center demonstrated the technology in a paper published in the July 8 edition of the appropriately named journal Small. The next step: extensively test the MSNs in a variety of animal-model systems and make sure it's all safe for the non-mouse world.

- read the UCLA article