Researchers are developing a new way to deliver targeted chemotherapy by sending tiny medicine-filled balloons into the body and using x-rays to pop them near the tumors. These tiny remote-controlled medicines are able to travel through the body and release their contents only where needed, which has huge implications for more effective disease treatments.
This is a new and growing field with exciting potential, especially in the cancer therapy field. Chemotherapeutic agents specifically target fast-growing cells, but when they’re allowed to flood the entire body, other fast-growing tissues, including the gut lining and the blood cells, are also at risk.
The technology uses criss-crossing x-rays intersecting in a region of the body to illuminate any liposomes, which are often found near tumor sites. The resulting ultraviolet light bends the atomic bonds that act as the “bars” of the molecular cages, distorting the cages and freeing the calcium ions trapped inside. The freed ions activate a fat-digesting enzyme, which proceeds to break down the liposome’s fatty membrane, causing the therapeutic agent to spill out into the surrounding tissue. X-rays are used because they penetrate much farther into the body than light, while spreading out less.
We are excited to see more developments from researchers as this field continues to grow with exciting implications for more effective disease treatment.
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