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42 BIOTECHNOLOGY


Nanoparticle-based drug is less harmful to fertility


From nanoparticles in new drugs and novel therapeutics, to imaging at the cellular level and understanding how bacteria work, nanotechnology is at the heart of many biotechnology advances.


Des nanoparticules dans de nouveaux médicaments et de nouveaux produits thérapeutiques en passant par l’imagerie au niveau cellulaire et jusqu’à la compréhension du fonctionnement des bactéries, la nanotechnologie est au cœur de nombreux progrès biotechnologiques.


Von Nanopartikeln in neuen Medikamenten und neue Therapeutika zur Bildgebung auf zellularer Ebene und das Verstehen der Funktionsweise von Bakterien – die Nanotechnologie bildet den Kern vieler biotechnologischer Fortschritte.


A


nanoparticle-based chemotherapy drug designed by Northwestern


Medicine, part of Northwestern University in the USA, has been designed to be less toxic to the fertility of young women. It is the first cancer drug tested while in development for its effect on fertility using a novel in vitro test. Current tests of this sort are both time and resource intensive.


“Our overall goal is to create smart drugs that kill the cancer but don’t cause sterility in young women,” said Teresa Woodruff, a co-principal investigator of the study and chief of fertility preservation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. A paper describing the work was published on March 20 in the journal PLOS ONE.


Te scientists hope their integration of drug development and reproductive toxicity testing is the beginning of a new era in which


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chemotherapy drugs are developed with an eye on their fertotoxity (fertility toxicity).


As cancer survival rates increase, the effect of cancer treatments on fertility is critically important to many young patients.


Te new initiative involves the chemotherapy drug arsenic trioxide being packed into a very tiny Trojan horse called a nanobin. Tis consists of nano-size crystalline arsenic particles densely packed and encapsulated in a fat bubble.


Te fat bubble, a liposome, disguises the deadly cargo – half a million drug molecules.


Te fat bubble is hundreds of times smaller than the average human cell. It is the perfect size to pass through holes in the leaky blood vessels that rapidly grow to feed tumours.


Te local environment of the tumour


Fig. 1. Nanoparticle tracking analysis is fundamental to the Dublin team’s understanding of how nanoparticles function in cancer therapies.


is often slightly acidic; it is this acid that causes the nanobin to release its drug cargo and deliver a dose of arsenic where it is needed.


Te scientists show that this approach to packaging and delivering the active drug has the desired effect on the tumour cells while preventing damage to ovarian tissue, follicles, or eggs.


Cancer theranostics Researchers based in the School of Medicine (Institute of Molecular Medicine) and the Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN) at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) are working to develop new nanoscale materials, with a particular focus on the new device and sensor technology, biotechnology and medical technology sectors.


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