Researchers at A*Star Research Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore have developed a new nanoparticle that could potentially diagnose and destroy cancerous cells.The new nanoparticle is made from a polyethylene-glycol-based polymer that carries a small peptide component, allowing it to bind to specific cell types. In addition, the polymer-based nanoparticle also carries the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin. The polymer also can be stimulated by light to release reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen. The ROS, when triggered by light, can have a thermodynamic therapeutic activity which can destroy targeted cells. In addition, the polymer’s natural fluorescence allows it to find where other cancerous cells have accumulated.
At press time, tests had only been conducted on in vitro cells, and researchers acknowledge that performing the same tests on in vivo cancer cells may be more complex. However, they are optimistic for this potentially revolutionary therapy.