Researchers with the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center successfully developed a synthetic polymer that can transport a drug into lung cancer cells without going inside of normal lung cells. Because conventional chemo drugs indiscriminately kill all rapidly dividing cells to halt the growth of cancer, these selective nanoparticles could decrease side effects by reducing drug accumulation in normal cells. “The discovery that nanoparticles can be selective to certain cells based only on their physical and chemical properties has profound implications for nanoparticle-based therapies because cell type specificity of drug carriers could alter patient outcomes in the clinic,” said corresponding author Dr. Daniel Siegwart (photo), Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at UT Southwestern Medical Center and with Simmons Cancer Center. “At the same time, a deeper understanding of nanoparticle interactions in the body opens the door to predict patient responses to existing liposome and nanoparticle therapies, and offers the potential to create future drug carriers customized according to individual genetic profiles.” The findings were published online on September 12, 2016 in PNAS. The article is titled "Functional Polyesters Enable Selective siRNA Delivery to Lung Cancer Over Matched Normal Cells." The scientists tested hundreds of polymers to make the surprising discovery that cells could respond differently to the same drug carrier, even when those cancerous and normal cells came from the lungs of the same patient.
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