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Pimp My Drugs

March 18, 2011

Rheanna Sand

While some on the west coast of North America go into total freak-out mode and hoard potassium iodide pills (even though they shouldn’t and are depriving those who really need them), cancer researchers continue their fight on the real front lines. Millions of us will eventually get some form of the disease, whether it’s from everyday sources of radiation or from our bad habits. Now, a new drug delivery method has been developed to fight tumours… and in style! If you like bling, that is.


Nanodiamonds are the new craze, and they are exactly what they sound like: tiny, tiny diamonds, about 1/40000 the width of a human hair. Edward Chow from the University of California in San Francisco, along with several colleagues from Illinois, published a study of rats injected with a traditional chemotherapy drug, given both in the usual way and tethered to the nanodiamonds. The bling-beads didn't just look fantastic under the scope, they allowed significantly more drug to remain at the tumour site.

 


 

The nanodiamonds solve a number of hurdles in drug delivery. The primary hurdle arises from how efficient the liver is - it protects you so well that it trains your enzymes to target the drugs that are trying to save your life. Nanodiamonds help prevent this recognition by giving the chemical a big particle to hitch a ride on, and is only released at the active site.

These particles deliver the drug to tumours and shrink them, and reduce the amount of drug that is broken down, but another important question is are nanodiamonds safe? Other nanomaterials, like carbon nanotubes, can be toxic and persist in the environment. The researchers addressed this by injecting mice with an excess of particles, and did not find any extra mortality.

So… I’m assuming this paves the way for nanodiamonds for humans, then? Pimp my drugs, please!

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