Nanoparticles just big enough to safely deliver cancer drug

Here's a little twist on the usual news about nanoparticles being small enough to use as drug delivery devices. Researchers at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology have discovered a way to combine a cancer drug with relatively large nanoparticles, saving the kidneys from damage.

Cisplatin is one of the first chemotherapy drugs given to patients diagnosed with lung, ovarian, or breast cancer. It's a platinium-containing compound that works fairly well in foiling the evil plans of DNA in tumor cells. The problem is that the cisplatin can also seriously harm the kidneys, so not a lot of it can be given to the patient.

Researchers have now figured out a way to package the cisplatin into nanoparticles that are actually too big to enter the kidneys. Now, you can really bombard the cancer cells without fear of collateral damage. Or, in the words of research leader Shiladitya Sengupta, "You could wipe out the tumor by carpet-bombing it."

Sengupta hopes to set up trials of the new technique within the next couple of years.

- read more from MIT