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Surprising Science

Nanotechnology Ready to Treat Cancer, Alzheimer’s & Obesity

Researchers have successfully modified nanoparticles to make them more effective at delivering medication directly to specific organelles within the body’s cells, opening new treatment options.

What’s the Latest Development?

University of Georgia researchers have refined how nanoparticles are used to deliver drugs to parts of individual cells, specifically mitochondria, the powerhouse of cells. During their experiments, scientists tested treatments currently underway against cancer, Alzheimer’s and obesity: “To test the effectiveness of their drug targeting system against cancer, they encapsulated the drug lonidamine, which works by inhibiting energy production in the mitochondria, and, separately, a form of the antioxidant vitamin E.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The components researchers used to create the nanoparticles are FDA approved and, said senior author Shanta Dhar, their methods are highly reproducible and therefore have the potential to be translated into clinical settings. “A lot of diseases are associated with dysfunctional mitochondria, but many of the drugs that act on the mitochondria can’t get there,” said a doctoral student working with Dhar. “Rather than try to alter the drugs, which can reduce their effectiveness, we encapsulate them in these nanoparticles and precisely deliver them to the mitochondria.”

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