"Nanogel" Attacks Cancer
Nanogels are synthetic drug-delivery agents that can transport anti-cancer compounds to cells. Now researchers at Yale have developed a new mechanism that hits the disease with a double whammy. Their method not only intensifies the body’s immune response but it also simultaneously weakens a tumor’s ability to resist it.
A press release from the university quotes principal investigator Tarek M. Fahmy as saying, “We believe this is a paradigm-changing immunotherapeutic method for cancer therapy. In essence, it’s a one-two punch strategy that seems to work well for melanoma and may work even better with other cancers.”
The researchers published their findings in the journal Nature Materials. Dr. Richard A. Flavell of Yale School of Medicine and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute collaborated on the project. The scientists say that tumors — in this case metastatic melanomas, or spreading skin cancers — are good at overwhelming the body's natural defenses but that the new biodegradable nanoparticle they have created thwarts that process. For the first time, a loaded nanogel is capable of gradually releasing not one but two agents into the tumor. The team used components approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for their animal trials. They say this bodes well for future trials with human subjects.