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Charged particles kill cancer by clogging up its waste disposal unit

Date: 18.3.2020 

Lysosomes are tiny sacs packed with enzymes and acids that degrade unwanted parts of the cell, before either recycling them or dumping them outside the cell walls, much like you'd take your trash out to the curb. Recent research has suggested lysosomes could play a role in Alzheimer's, where a dysfunctional disposal system can enable the buildup of toxic proteins in the brain.

Kredit: Mariana Ruiz / Wikimedia Commons.Scientists at South Korea's Institute of Basic Science are working to instigate their own type of dysfunctional lysosomes, the reason being that a compromised lysosome that releases its trash inside the cell can cause that cell to die, which is obviously a good thing when we're talking about cancer cells.

One thing working in the team's favor is the fact that cancer cells' lysosomes are easier to damage than those of healthy cells. The trouble has been coming up with therapies that target only the former, and leave the latter intact.

The researchers believe they have found a way to achieve this, and it involves a delicate mix of negatively and positively charged nanoparticles. These selectively form in clusters on the cancer cell surface, which then transform into nanoparticles crystals inside the lysosomes and cause them to swell, gradually deteriorate and eventually die.

The team experimented with different recipes for this novel form of therapy, finding that nanoparticles featuring 80 percent positively charged and 20 percent negatively charged ligands were optimal for cancer cell selectivity.





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