Nanoparticle cancer killer

A team of scientists from Leicester University is developing nanoparticles that could be used to treat prostate cancer.

Dr Wu Su of the Department of Chemistry at Leicester University has been awarded a grant worth £321,000 by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to head up the development of nanoparticles that could be used to treat prostate cancer.

The money will be used to fund the work of a multi-disciplinary research team of researchers from the Leicester departments of Chemistry, Physics, Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine and Cardiovascular Sciences.

The magnetic nanoparticles will act as probes that show up (using magnetic resonance imaging) and kill (by hyperthermia) tumour cells at a much earlier stage than conventional methods. They will do so by targeting unique cell-surface receptors present on the cell surface of the prostate tumour.

It is envisaged that the approach could also be applied to other types of aggressive cancers in which early diagnosis and treatment is essential for recovery.

Successful implementation of the technique would provide significant welfare benefits for patients (reducing the need for surgical removal of the prostate) and significant cost benefits for the UK healthcare system.

Transmission electron micrograph of the magnetic nanoparticles. Credit: Prof Chris Binns, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Leicester University