Monday, June 20, 2005

Non-toxic chemotherapy?

New Scientist writes:

All living cells require folic acid to replicate, but cancer cells have a particularly strong appetite for it, displaying up to one thousand more docking sites - called folate receptors - on their membranes. By attaching five folic acid molecules to branches of the dendrimer, the researchers were able to lure the cancer cells into accepting the whole package across the membrane and into the cell - including the toxic drug, which then kills off the cell.


He says that the treatment targeted the cancer cells so successfully that they had not even found an upper dosage limit, since it had not been toxic to healthy cells.

I may be reading more into this than is intended, but it sounds as though attaching the folic acid ions (not whole molecules, surely?) to the dendrimer not only reduces the total amount of toxin required to kill tumours, but also reduces the toxic effects of even the same total amount of toxin being present in the patient's body, should this occur.

Focus has its benefits.