14 May 2009

Cancer diagnosis and treatment: "4-in-1" nanoparticles

Korean researchers led by Tae Gwan Park and Jinwoo Cheon have developed the foundations for creating an agent capable of detecting tumor cells, selectively binding to them, destroying them, simultaneously allowing these cells to be observed at the macro and microscopic level.

The researchers connected fluorescent dye, RNA fragments and peptide fragments to iron oxide nanoparticles. The task of peptides is to identify tumor cells, RNA fragments suppress the work of a number of genes characteristic of cancer cells, killing them. Magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles play the role of contrast for MRI, and fluorescent dye allows you to observe cancer cells using microscopy.

In order to obtain a protein capable of destroying cancer cells, the researchers analyzed the DNA of tumor cells and translated genetic information, obtaining an RNA template that was used to "treat" the cell. The resulting MRNA can be used to block the biosynthesis of proteins necessary for tumor growth. This happens as follows – small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are injected into the cell. They are short double strands of RNA that bind specifically to the target MRNA. Inside the cell, proteins compete with MRNA by binding to si-RNA and releasing MRNA. If the MRNA is not protected, it is rapidly degraded by the cell.

siRNA molecules facilitate the penetration of the modified nanoparticle into the cell. For specific binding to cancer cells, the nanoparticles were modified with a short peptide chain, RGD, which binds to integrin, a cell membrane protein whose concentration in a cancer cell is much higher than in a healthy cell. Integrins with RGD-modified nanoparticles easily recognize cancer cells, penetrate them and cause endocytosis.

Magnetically active particles play not only the role of transport – they are also contrast agents for MRI, their increased content in the area of the tumor allows you to monitor its development. Fluorescent tags, also associated with nanoparticles, are used to monitor the development of the tumor in the best resolution. Moreover, during histological analysis, the fluorescent label allows you to monitor the penetration of nanoparticles into individual cells and study areas of increased nanoparticle content within a single cell.

ChemPort.Ru based on the materials of Angew. Chem. Int. Ed

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