Custom nanoparticle regresses tumors when exposed to light
A unique nanoparticle to deliver a localized cancer treatment inhibits tumor growth in mice, according to a team of Penn State researchers.
The nanoparticles, developed by Daniel Hayes, associate professor of biomedical engineering, have a specific chemistry that allows a microRNA (miRNA) to attach to it. A miRNA is a molecule that prevents messenger RNA (mRNA) from translation when paired to it. In this case, it prohibits the mRNA in a cancer cell from creating proteins, which are essential for cancer cells to survive.
In their study, the researchers delivered miRNA-loaded nanoparticles to the cancer cells of mice through an IV. Once the nanoparticles built up in the cancerous area, they used a light of a specific wavelength to detach the miRNA, which then paired with a mRNA in the cancer cell, causing a translation halt. Eventually, the cancer cell dies.
This could mean that the overall effectiveness of killing a cancer cell is higher because the treatment is attacking multiple points in that cell. It may also lead to a decrease of a cancer cell's ability to become resistant to the treatment because the miRNA is able to pair with different mRNAs in the cancer cell, diversifying the ways in which translation is inhibited.
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