This colourful tangle is a computer-generated image of a nanoparticle loaded with cancer-fighting drugs. Using super-tiny particles to deliver drugs to cancer cells without damaging healthy cells is a promising strategy. But it’s been difficult to build units that carry more than two chemical payloads. Scientists usually make them by encapsulating one compound inside the particles and attaching another to the outside. Now they have a fresh approach: make chemical building blocks that already contain drugs, then assemble them to create bespoke combinations in which the relative quantities are carefully controlled. The image depicts polymer chains (blue), which stop the particle being broken down too quickly; linking units (pink); and three different drugs (red, green, dark green core) used to treat ovarian cancer. Put to the test, these triple-whammy nanoparticles killed ovarian cancer cells grown in a dish more effectively than nanoparticles with one or two drugs.
Written by Daniel Cossins
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