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Published on 26 March 2009

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Major cancer-treatment breakthrough

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A major breakthrough in attempts to switch off cancer-causing genes and trigger cell death has been announced by researchers at the University of London’s School of Pharmacy.

It is based on nanotubes used to deliver small interfering RNA (siRNA) directly into the tumour mass, which it is hoped will have a significant impact in the battle against lung cancer.

Most current trials use “naked” siRNA – involving no delivery system – which results in an inefficient uptake by diseased cells. This means that an effective delivery system is the key to developing the treatment.

The breakthrough has been made by a team from the Nanomedicine Lab at the Centre for Drug Delivery Research, Alberto Bianco from the CNRS in Strasbourg, and Maurizio Prato, at the University of Trieste in Italy.

As reported in the online nanotechnology journal Small, a significant therapeutic effect was achieved by injecting siRNA-carrying carbon nanotubes directly into the cancer cells.

Said Professor Kostarelos of the School of Pharmacy: “This is the first time carbon nanotube-based delivery systems have achieved efficacy levels leading to prolonged survival for any disease model. This study should be just the beginning since there is more to come from the use of novel nanomaterials against cancer.”

Copyright Press Association 2009

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