Synchronising drug and gene therapies

Cancer can be tackled with a combination of drug and genetic therapies, so that the effectiveness of individual treatments are enhanced.

YANG Yi Yan, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Materials Research &...
YANG Yi Yan, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Materials Research & Engineering
That is the result of  a study by Yi-Yan Yang and colleagues at the Institute of Bio-engineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore, published in the October issue of Nature Materials  (
Beyond the promise for a more effective cure, achieving this synergistic effect also means that the dosage of anticancer treatments could be reduced.

The authors used biodegradable nanoparticles made from a polymer that has both a water-loving side and an oil-loving side. When placed in a water solution the polymer spontaneously forms nanoparticles in which the oil-loving part hides in the core, and the water-loving part lines the outside shell. If an oil-loving drug is present in the solution, it will be incorporated in the core. By contrast, the shell can be used to bind DNA or RNA.

The researchers loaded the nanoparticles with a potent anticancer drug and therapeutic gene, injected them in mouse tumours, and observed a significantly slower growth rate in the tumour.


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