Researchers are designing tiny particles to act as medicine.
The particles are coated with waterlike molecules that allow them to travel inside the body without being detected by the immune system, Farokhzad said. Their surfaces contain molecules that provide them with a "GPS" to seek out abnormal cancer cells.
Once they find a cancer cell, the particles stick, and like a Trojan horse, the cancer cells take them inside where they can release medicine that's toxic to the cell, Farokhzad said. [Watch the World Science Festival Live.]
In a study published last year in Science Translational Medicine, Farokhzad and colleagues showed that, in people, the nanoparticles delivered a much higher dose of medicine to cancer cells than to other cells in the body. Follow-up studies will test the effectiveness of the drug at treating tumors.