About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Microcapsules target cancer cells

by Medindia Content Team on August 27, 2006 at 11:40 AM
Font : A-A+

Microcapsules target cancer cells

Medicines are successfully used only when they affect only the diseased organs or cells - for example, cancer cells.

Max Planck researchers attempted to direct microcapsules into cancer cells and release their contents with the help of a laser impulse. They have succeeded in releasing a substance into the tumour cell. They did this by putting the substance into a small capsule and directing it into the tumour cells where it gets "unpacked" with the help of a laser impulse. The laser beam heats up the polymer shell and the contents of the capsule are released. (Angewandte Chemie, July 2006).

Advertisement

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany, and Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich did this study.

Treating malignant tumours is difficult. Doctors have to destroy the tumour, but healthy tissue needs to be preserved. Chemotherapy tends to kill diseased cells, at the same time causing great damage to the body in general. So scientists are looking for ways to destroy only the rampant tumour cells. One way to achieve this is to transport substances inside of microcapsules into the tumour cells and release them there.
Advertisement

Researchers led by André Skirtach and Gleb Sukhorukov at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany, along with Wolfgang Parak at Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich, have now used a laser as a means of opening microcapsules inserted into a tumour cell. The capsules subsequently release their contents, a fluorescent test substance, into the cell. The scientists used a light microscope to monitor how the luminous materials distribute themselves within the cell.

The vehicle that the researchers used was a polymer capsule only a few micrometres in diameter. The walls of the capsules were built from a number of layers of charged polymers, alternating positive and negative.

In the laboratory, at least, this is an established way of producing transport containers for medicines, cosmetics, or nutrients, which can also pass through cell membranes. André Skirtach and his colleagues equipped the capsules with a kind of "open sesame".

But it didn't require any magic - just nanoparticles made of gold or silver atoms. The scientists mixed together charged metal nanoparticles along with the polymers composing the walls of the vesicle. The tumour cells absorbed the microcapsules and then the scientists aimed an infrared laser at them. Metal nanoparticles are particularly good at absorbing the laser light and transmitting the heat further into their surroundings, heating up the walls. They became so hot that the bonds broke between the polymers and the shell and the capsules eventually opened.

For the time being, the scientists have only been trying out their methods on isolated tumour cells. "In principle, however, active substances could be released into the body this way," says Helmuth Möhwald, director of the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, and one of the participating scientists.

This has to (do) with the fact that infrared laser light can penetrate at least one centimetre deep into the tissue. The cells of the body heat up negligibly because laser light at this wavelength is insignificantly absorbed in the tissue. It is the metal particles in the walls of the microcapsules only that absorb the light - even when the microcapsules are in a cell, because the laser affects only them.

Besides using a "thermal opener", the scientists have found another way of making the capsules more stable. They simply heat up the newly created microcapsules very slightly, so that the diameter of the hollow capsules becomes smaller. At the same time, the molecules in their shell are located closer to each other, thickening the capsule walls and better protecting their contents.

There is still, however, a major problem to solve before scientists can use this technology to create medicines which squeeze microcapsules into tumour cells. There is still no way to "steer" the microcapsules. Helmuth Möhwald says, "we have to add some kind of feature to the capsules so that they only recognise the target cells." Only these cells would then allow microcapsules through their membrane.

(Source : Eurekalert)
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Black Tea Protects against Blood Pressure and Heart Diseases
Green Mediterranean Diet may Help Repair Age-Related Brain Damages
Cervical Cancer Awareness Month 2022
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Cancer and Homeopathy Parkinsons Disease Surgical Treatment Cancer Facts Cancer Common Lifestyle Habits that Cause Diseases Health Benefits of Dandelion Plant Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors for Cancer Treatment Non-Communicable Diseases 
Recommended Reading
Common Lifestyle Habits that Cause Diseases
Cigarette smoking, unhealthy diets, overuse of alcohol, and physical inactivity are some of the most...
Health Benefits of Dandelion Plant
What is dandelion? Dandelion greens are nutrition powerhouses with a wide range of health benefits. ...
Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors for Cancer Treatment
Immune checkpoint inhibitors are promising drugs to treat a variety of cancers and the FDA has appro...
Non-Communicable Diseases
Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are a group of chronic non-infectious diseases which include Cardio...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2022

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use
open close
CONSULT A DOCTOR
I have read and I do accept terms of use - Telemedicine

Advantage Medindia: FREE subscription for 'Personalised Health & Wellness website with consultation' (Value Rs.300/-)