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2/8/2007 8:40:16 PM
Buckyballs Ferry Drugs into Cancer Cells Safely

Scientists at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine have developed a new type of buckyball nanoparticle that acts as a passkey, allowing peptide-based drugs to enter cancer cells. The new buckyballs, known as bucky amino acids, are made of a buckyball linked to the amino acid phenylalanine and were designed to mimic viruses capable of penetrating the cell membrane. This work was published in the journal Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry.

"Drugs are far more effective if they're delivered through the membrane, directly into the cell," said lead researcher Andrew Barron, Ph.D., of Rice University. "Viruses, which are often toxic, long ago developed ways of sneaking through cell walls. While we're mimicking some techniques used by viruses, we're using non-toxic pieces of protein, and we're incorporating buckyballs as a passkey."

Tests with cultured liver cancer cells and neuroblastoma cells showed that the bucky amino acids were capable of ferrying attached peptides into these cells. These findings are particularly notable because neuroblastoma cells are well known for the difficulty in transporting drugs through their cell membrane. The investigators note that their experimental findings suggest strongly that the bucky amino acid actively assists in uptake by the cells, perhaps because buckyballs mix readily with the fatty molecules that make up cell membranes.

This work is detailed in a paper titled, “The use of fullerene substituted phenylalanine amino acid as a passport for peptides through cell membranes.” An abstract of this paper is available through PubMed.

View abstract.

Other Headlines from Baylor College of Medicine ...
 - Nanoshells Provide Golden "Touch" in Killing Breast Tumors
 - Buckyballs Ferry Drugs into Cancer Cells Safely
 - Unraveling the viral mechanism

Other Headlines from NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer ...
 - Tekmira and the National Cancer Institute Publish Promising Data Demonstrating the Anti-Tumor Activity of a Novel Cancer Target
 - NCI Awards $1.7 Million to Cancer Specialist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
 - Nanoparticles Enhance Detection of Circulating Tumor Cells
 - Hand-held NMR Instrument Yields Rapid Analysis of Human Tumors
 - Biodegradable Biopolymer Nanoparticles Hold Promise for Twin Attack on Breast Cancer

Other Headlines from Rice University ...
 - Material adapts to strain - Rice University lab creates self-strengthening nanocomposite
 - Rice University unveils state-of-the-art physics research facility
 - 'Pruned' microchips are faster, smaller, more energy-efficient
 - Rice University researchers create single-atom lithography in graphene
 - Rice University lab uses ruthenium complexes to dissolve nanotubes, add functionality

More Research Headlines ...
 - Experiments Settle Long-Standing Debate about Mysterious Array Formations in Nanofilms
 - "Critical baby step" taken for spying life on a molecular scale
 - Seeing an atomic thickness
 - First-ever sub-nanoscale snapshots of renegade protein in Huntington's Disease
 - Karlsruhe Invisibility Cloak: Disappearing Visibly

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