Nanoparticles deliver cancer drug, spare fertility

Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago have developed a nanoparticle-enhanced chemotherapy delivery for women that is designed to preserve their chances of having children.

By packaging the FDA-approved chemotherapy arsenic trioxide in a nanoparticle consisting of fat molecules, the scientists prevented exposure of the toxic drug to healthy tissues surrounding the tumor. In patients with lymphoma, the treatment proved more potent than the traditional form of the cancer drug, while at the same time preventing damage of the ovaries, follicles or eggs, according to the university.

Because tumor cells tend to be acidic, it is this trigger that allows the release of the chemotherapy by a vehicle that holds it safely in the less acidic environment outside the tumor.

"Many cancer drugs cause sterilization; that's why the reproductive tract is really important to focus on in the new stages of drug design," said Thomas O'Halloran, part of the team of researchers with his wife, Teresa Woodruff, in a statement. "Other body systems get better when people stop taking the drug, but fertility you can't recover."

- here's the release

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