University of Cincinnati researchers have developed the first-of-its-kind nanostructure which is unusual because it can carry a variety of cancer-fighting materials on its double-sided (Janus) surface and within its porous interior.
Because of its unique structure, the nano carrier can do all of the following:
• Transport cancer-specific detection nanoparticles and biomarkers to a site within the body, e.g., the breast or the prostate. This promises earlier diagnosis than is possible with today’s tools.
• Attach fluorescent marker materials to illuminate specific cancer cells, so that they are easier to locate and find for treatment, whether drug delivery or surgery.
• Deliver anti-cancer drugs for pinpoint targeted treatment of cancer cells, which should result in few drug side effects. Currently, a cancer treatment like chemotherapy affects not only cancer cells but healthy cells as well, leading to serious and often debilitating side effects.
This recently developed Janus nanostructure is unusual in that, normally, these super-small structures (that are much smaller than a single cell) have limited surface. This makes is difficult to carry multiple components, e.g., both cancer detection and drug-delivery materials. The Janus nanocomponent, on the other hand, has functionally and chemically distinct surfaces to allow it to carry multiple components in a single assembly and function in an intelligent manner.
“In this effort, we’re using existing basic nano systems, such as carbon nanotubes, graphene, iron oxides, silica, quantum dots and polymeric nano materials in order to create an all-in-one, multidimensional and stable nano carrier that will provide imaging, cell targeting, drug storage and intelligent, controlled drug release,” said UC’s Shi, adding that the nano carrier’s promise is currently greatest for cancers that are close to the body’s surface, such as breast and prostate cancer.