Nanoparticles. Cure to Cancer?

It has been about two decades since nanoparticles were FDA approved to be a working intervention for cancer development. Since that time, more and more methods were developed and has attracted more researchers.

In a recent test with rats, the nanoparticles completely destroyed the origin of cancer and metastases growth in other regions. Usually, cancer cells and tumor cells cannot be detected easily because the cells produce a protein that “mutes” T-cells. T-cells act as a guard, patrolling the body and watching out for suspicious cells. When the T-cell finds a suspicious cell, it sends an alert which notifies other cells to send alerts. This alert, however, can be “muted” by a certain protein that appears on friendly cells to block an overreaction. The cancer cells have the same protein that mute the T-cells and therefore, the T-cells cannot detect the intruders.

Over the years, many pharmaceutical companies made artificial proteins that able the T-cells to detect the cancer cells. As of now, the survival rate of consuming these proteins to cure cancer is about 20 to 30%. However, within patients that received radiation therapy to shrink tumors, the T-cells were overstimulated and destroyed all the metastases around the body. Metastases is another word for a separate development in the body, away from the origin. It is very important to destroy the metastases, even more so than the origin itself. The metastases can cause cancer again if it is not destroyed, and the returning cancer may be immune to drugs. A hurdle to overcome is the size limit. If the particle is larger than 40 nanometers, the macrophages will eat it. So the particles have to be larger than 20 nanometers for it to be useful, and smaller than 40 nanometers to prevent it from getting eaten up. The particles are also covered with polyethylene glycol to increase its lifetime, while also making it able to target the cancerous cells. The particles are filled with chlorine like particles that react to light. This ables them to kill the cancerous cells.

There is a long process to actually kill the cancer cells. First, the nanoparticles are injected into the bloodstream, where it can last long enough inside the circulation to find its way to the tumor or cancer. The tumor usually does not have a stable bloodstream and is leaky. The particles then are absorbed by the tumor or cancer. When it is absorbed, the scientists shone almost infrared lights at the tumor, which were absorbed by the particles. The oxygen molecules around the chlorine are excited and create highly unstable oxygen know as a singlet oxygen. This singlet oxygen annihilates nearby living cells, killing the tumor.
As you can see, this is a fascinating topic to study which can save many lives as well as bring up other ways to cure cancer. ⥁