Researchers have developed a new method of delivering drugs to fight cancers - by transporting the drug through nanoparticles - which they say would be less physically traumatic to patients, the team said Friday.
The team at the National University of Singapore's department of chemical and biomolecular engineering believe nanoparticles, which are so small they cannot be detected under a standard microscope, are the delivery key.
Led by Professor Feng Si-Shen, the team has been using the anti-cancer drug Pacitaxel, which is usually dissolved into an agent that often triggers severe reactions, including weakened immune systems.
By transporting Pacitaxel in nanoparticles derived from vitamin E, side effects can be significantly reduced, Feng told The Straits Times.
Nanoparticles are equipped with "homing" devices, in the form of antibodies that are attracted only to antigens on the surface of cancer cells, he said.
Their tiny size, less than one-1,000th the diameter of a human hair, allows the particles to pass more effectively through the blood vessels that supply tumours, he said.
Laboratory tests on rats with colon cancer have produced impressive results, Feng said.
If successful in clinical trials, Feng said that the technology's applications could expand to other anti-cancer drugs.