Author: John Anderer
IMAGE: Chemical structure of chemotherapy drug paclitaxel, trade name Taxol®.
EVANSTON, Ill. — The same tactics used by the ancient Greeks thousands of years ago in battle are being applied by researchers at Northwestern University to fight cancer today. A newly designed drug delivery system is capable of disguising chemotherapeutics as fat, a favorite snack of cancerous tumors, creating an effect likened to the “Trojan horse” tale heralded in Greek lore.
Ever since the ancient Greeks snuck their way into the city of Troy inside a giant wooden horse disguised as a gift, the tale of the Trojan horse has been considered a classic example of strategy and cunning over brute force. Now, researchers are hoping to use a bit of deception in the fight against cancer.
In order to develop this delivery and targeting system, researchers engineered a long-chain fatty acid capable of binding itself to drugs at both ends. The fatty acid, with drugs in tow, is then hidden inside a protein found in human blood that carries fat molecules throughout the body.
Essentially, tumors are “tricked” into inviting the chemotherapeutics inside, allowing the drug to destroy them from the inside out. After making it inside the tumor, the hidden drug activates and kills cancer cells. This innovative delivery method is also lower in toxicity, thus causing less harmful side effects than most other chemotherapy treatments available today.
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