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Published by: tuanucsb on Jul 11, 2008
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http://www.brighthub.com/engineering/mechanical/articles/2396.aspxIntroductionCancer rapidly overtakes heart diseases as number one killer in America.Canceraccounts for nearly 25% of deaths in the US. In 2005, there were 559,312 cancerdeaths in the US. The risk of developing cancer is 1-in-2 for men and 1-in-3 forwomen.There is no offical cure for cancer. The standard cancer treatments are surgery,chemotherapy and radiation. New cancer drugs are constantly being developed, buttheir effectiveness is dubious. Several cancer drugs cost up to $100,000 a yearbut have been shown to increase patient survival by 1-2 month. The main limitationis the inability to deliver drugs to the desired target, which in turn leads toundesired complications, such as deaths of healthy cells or multi-drug resistance. Research being carried out in the field of Nanotechnology to Treat CancerBecause of its unique size (1-100nm) and large surface-to-volume ratios,nanotechnology offers unique solutions to overcome hurdles in cancer therapies.Several research programs has focused efforts on developing nanodevices for earlydiagnostics of cancer, delivery of cancer drugs to cancer cells, and cancersurveillance One of most comprehensive research program is the National CancerInstitute (NCI) Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, [http://nano.cancer.gov],which consists of eight Centers of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence (CCNE), twelveplatform projects, and four interdisciplinary training programs across the nation.The Alliance invests 40-50 $million a year to develop both the therapeutic anddiagnostics aspects of cancer nanotechnology. One of the highlights of theAlliance achievements is the work led by Robert Langer, a Chemical Engineeringprofessor at MIT. Langer, who has previously revolutionized the fileds of drugdelivery and tissue engineering, collaborated with Omid Farokhzad, AssistantProfessor of Anaesthesia at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, USA, to test theeffect of aptamer-targeted nanoparticles for treatment of prostate cancer.Aptamers are RNA-based targeting moieties, which bind to the antigens and guidethe particles towards the tumors (PNAS 103, 6315–6320; 2006).. The nanoparticlesthen bind to tumor cells, gain entry into the cells, and release their contents-the anticancer drug docetaxel. Animal experiments demonstrate that the tumorvolume was substantially reduced following the injection of these docetaxel-encapsulated apatamer-conjugated nanoparticles. Futhermore, the experiments also amuch lower level of toxicity in comparison to current chemotherapy treatments.Several startup companies have spawned up in the last few years, with the aim totranslate academic discovery into commercial sucesses. Recently, Food and DrugAdministration (FDA) approval of Abraxane (ABI-007), an albumin-taxol nanoparticlefor the treatment of breast cancer, has opened the doors for commericaldevelopment of nanoscale drug delivery devices. According to Piotr Grodzinski,Director of the NCI's Alliance in an interview by Forbes: "Today, there are 20 to30 small companies in both diagnostics and therapeutics. A handful of those are inclinical trials, and we expect another three or four will file applications thisyear." Companies like Avidimer Therapeutics, Liquidia Technologies, InsertTherapeutics, Intradigm, BIND Biosciences, and Carigent are working on various

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