Feeds

Boffins test cancer-stinging 'nano-bee' swarms in mice

No risk of zombie-plague side effects, seemingly

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

American medi-boffins say they have developed a way of using tiny nanotech devices, which they call "nanobees", to carry a potentially poisonous drug safely into the body for the purposes of killing cancerous tumours.

The "bees" are so-called - as opposed to being named "nanowasps" or "nanocobras" or whatever - because the the toxin they carry is melittin, the same used by real bees to poison their victims after stinging them.

"Melittin has been of interest to researchers because in high enough concentration it can destroy any cell it comes into contact with, making it an effective antibacterial and antifungal agent and potentially an anticancer agent," says Doc Paul Schlesinger, cell biology prof at Washington University in St Louis (WUSTL).

"Nanobees are an effective way to package the useful, but potentially deadly, melittin, sequestering it so that it neither harms normal cells nor gets degraded before it reaches its target," he adds.

According to WUSTL:

The scientists tested nanobees in two kinds of mice with cancerous tumors. One mouse breed was implanted with human breast cancer cells and the other with melanoma tumors. After four to five injections of the melittin-carrying nanoparticles over several days, growth of the mice's breast cancer tumors slowed by nearly 25 percent, and the size of the mice's melanoma tumors decreased by 88 percent compared to untreated tumors.

The nanobees are tiny perfluorocarbon spheres about "six millionths of an inch" across. The scientists believe that they can be made to accumulate in tumours and even in pre-cancerous areas, so releasing their deadly payload just where it's wanted. This happens partly because tumours naturally tend to act as biological sumps, accumulating material of various kinds. The boffins were able to enhance this effect by adding a targeting agent attracted to areas where blood supply is increasing - as it does where cancerous growths are developing.

This could mean that the nanobees would be capable of tackling cancer proactively, before it was fully developed.

"We are learning more and more about tumor biology," says Schlesinger. "That knowledge could soon allow us to create nanoparticles targeted for specific tumors using the nanobee approach."

The obvious zombie-plague consideration - those zombie plagues which don't arrive from space are typically the result of nanotechnology and/or cures for cancer, AIDS etc. - would seem baseless in this case. The "targeting" ability of the nanobees works simply by allowing them to circulate through the body many times until they pass through a cancerous region and stick: they aren't like tiny submarines, able to navigate about and perhaps decide to do something other than what their designers intended.

At any rate, there's no mention from the scientists of their test mice - following the remission or cure of their cancer - then turning into brain-scoffing photophobic shamblers able to pass on their condition via bites or scratches.

The latest nanobees study from Schlesinger and his colleague will be advance published online today by the Journal of Clinical Investigation. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.