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Journey to the Centre of the Cell

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When it comes to delivering drugs, nanoparticles shaped like rods and worms are the best bet for making the daunting journey to the centre of a cell, according to research published in Nature Nanotechnology.

“We were able to show for the first time that nanoparticles shaped like rods and worms were more effective than spherical nanoparticles at traversing intracellular barriers, and this enabled them to get all the way into the nucleus of the cell,” says lead author Dr Elizabeth Hinde of UNSW Australia.

The research team applied a new microscopy method that allowed them to track the movement of differently shaped nanoparticles through a single cultured cancer cell. They were able to pinpoint where drugs were being released and how they spread throughout the cell.

They found that the cancer drug doxorubicin was most effective when it could breach the strong yet porous cellular barrier protecting the nucleus. Importantly, they discovered that the nanoparticle’s shape – a rod, worm or sphere – influenced how well the drug breached the barrier.

Hinde explains that researchers could previously see the overall distribution of their nanoparticles throughout a cell, but didn’t have the microscopy tools to understand how this localisation was set up – a key limitation in drug delivery research. “You need to know how things arrive at their final...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.