Next-gen nanoparticles deliver cancer drugs at just the right moment

Nanoparticles often deliver cancer drugs prematurely, releasing their cargo at the slightest trigger, missing their target. Researchers concocted a new version that appears able to last longer, holding onto the treatment until it reaches its goal.

University of California-Davis scientists produced the novel class of nanoparticles and the latest issue of the international chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie holds details of their research.

Those new particles have a name--"dual responsive boronate cross-linked micelles." A micelle, for those who don't know, is really tiny--about 25-50 nanometers, and is designed to carry and deliver a drug. The boronate cross-linked micelles created by the scientists are considered unusual because in the lab, they delay the drug's release until hitting chemical triggers such as the tumor environment itself, or in response to an intravenous chemical injection.

It is a delicate balancing act. Boronic acid-containing polymers and catechol-containing polymers are the crucial ingredients for the new nanoparticles, to allow for staged drug delivery. The resulting micelles are extremely sensitive. But the scientists worked to create a more stable version of the resulting boronate cross-linked micelles, one that would allow for essentially "on-demand" release of the treatment, the researchers say.

Hopefully, the new nanotechnology will work in larger clinical trials though that certainly remains to be seen. Human trials don't always repeat the results found in preclinical or laboratory research. The technology remains a hot topic, however, as it offers hope of delivering greater concentrations of drugs to a tumor or other part of the body. Nanotech also offers a possible salvation for RNAi drugs, which are designed to turn off bad genes that cause disease but aren't effective on their own in reaching their target.

- here's the release
- read the journal abstract

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