Delivering radioactive therapeutic agents to tumors can be a dangerous process if healthy tissues are exposed to the material. An international team of researchers has developed nanocapsules that can transport alpha emitters and help contain the daughter ions they produce.
Alpha radiation is both highly energetic and easily contained at the same time. Alpha particles, essentially identical to the nucleus of helium, have been successfully contained by lipid containers, but they can break down and lose their effectiveness. Moreover, containing daughter ions that are produced during breakdown can help significantly control radiation exposure.
The new peptide nanocapsules were able to enter live cells and naturally moved toward the nucleus, ready to attack the DNA within. They were found to effectively contain the radioactive payload while keeping the daughter ions from being to damage nearby tissue.
From the study abstract:
The ability of our constructs to retain alpha particle emitting radionuclides without any apparent leakage and their persistence in the peri-nuclear region of the cell for extended periods of time, coupled with their ease of preparation and potential tune-ability, makes them attractive as biocompatible carriers for targeted cancer therapy using particle emitting radioisotopes. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Interfacially active peptides and proteins.
Study in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta: Branched amphiphilic peptide capsules: Cellular uptake and retention of encapsulated solutes