Remember the 1966 Sci-Fi classic Fantastic Voyage, where in-order to save a nearly assassinated diplomat, a team of surgeons board a submarine, which is then miniaturized and injected into him? Well, researchers at MIT might be able to replicate such a plot using nanoparticles that mimic blood platelets instead of a team of surgeons and a submarine:
On a quest to modernize cancer treatment and diagnosis, an MIT professor and her colleagues have created new nanoparticles that mimic blood platelets. The team wants to use these new multifunctional particles to carry out different medical missions inside the body, from imaging to drug delivery.
After years of research, “we still treat cancer with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy,” said Sangeeta Bhatia, an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.
One solution already under way involves using nanoparticles for cancer imaging. By slipping through tiny gaps that exist in fast-growing tumor blood vessels and then sticking together, the particles create masses with enough of a magnetic signal to be detectable by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. “This might allow for noninvasive imaging of fast-growing cancer ‘hot spots’ in tumors,” said Bhatia. The team will continue this research by testing the imaging capabilities in animal models.
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