Microcapsules Open in Tumour Cells

Armen Hareyan's picture

Malignant Tumor Treatment

Medicines are most helpful when they directly affect the diseased organs or cells - for example, tumour cells. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany, and Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich, have come one step closer to that goal: they have intentionally released a substance in a tumour cell. The scientists placed the substance in a tiny capsule which gets channelled into cancer cells, and is then "unpacked" with a laser impulse. The laser light cracks its polymer shell by heating it up and the capsule's contents are released. (Angewandte Chemie, July 2006).

Treating malignant tumours is difficult. Doctors have to destroy the tumour, but healthy tissue needs to be preserved. Chemotherapy tends to kill diseased cells, at the same time causing great damage to the body in general. So scientists are looking for ways to destroy only the rampant tumour cells. One way to achieve this is to transport substances inside of microcapsules into the tumour cells and release them there. Researchers led by Andr