'Stealth' drug delivery system targets tough-to-treat breast cancer

MIT researchers have developed a "stealth" drug delivery system to attack a type of breast cancer that is highly resistant to current therapies.

In an article at ACS Nano, Paula T. Hammond and colleagues at the Koch Institute of Integrative Cancer Research at MIT describe a way to sneak small particles into tumor cells, lower their defenses and attack them with drugs.

Their work focuses on triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), an aggressive disease that is difficult to treat with standard therapy.

Their "one-two punch" strategy uses the "stealth" nanoparticles carrying the cancer drug doxorubicin, as well as short strands of RNA that can shut off one of the genes that cancer cells use to escape the drug, according to an announcement. An outer layer protects the particle from degradation in the bloodstream, which had been a problem in developing such a strategy previously.

The system was used successfully in mice and could be customized to treat other types of cancers, the researchers say.

It's the latest in the move toward personalized medicine, especially in the treatment of cancer. Breast cancer, for instance, is now believed to be at least 10 completely separate diseases, each with its own life expectancy and requiring its own treatment, BBC News explained in announcing a massive cancer database being launched in England.

Meanwhile, scientists in Scotland have invented computer technology that identifies "smarter drugs" to treat diseases. The program decodes protein structures in cells and can rapidly tell how the proteins could be "shapeshifted" by drugs.

To learn more:
- find the research
- here's the announcement


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