'Theragnostic' nanoparticle detects and treats tumors

No, "theragnostic" does not refer to a person who does not believe, either way, whether a therapy will work. It's a class of nanocarriers that can both diagnose cancer cells and deliver therapy. Nanowerk tells us about the theragnostic work of Jin Suck Suh from Yonsei University in Korea who has developed a multitasking nanomaterial that can do double-duty. The material is made up of polyethylene glycol surfactant molecules that self-organize into tiny capsules to encase anticancer drugs like doxorubin.

First, here's how the theragnostic material performs its drug-delivery duty. The anticancer drug stays inside the carrier if pH is normal. But it releases the drug as soon as it hits the low pH environment of cancer cells. For the diagnostic part of its job, Nanowerk reports, researchers added manganese ferrite, which is used as a contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging, and a breast cancer antibody. This combination produces strong MRI signals only when it's in the presence of breast cancer cells.

The combo achieved a bulls-eye, penetrating cells during testing in mice and releasing anti-cancer drugs near the nucleus of the cells. After nine days of the treatment, tumor growth was suppressed. The next step, Suh says, is to work on other anti-cancer agent/imaging tool combinations.

- read more on Nanowerk
- and an abstract in Advanced Materials