Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fantastic Voyage: Medical 'Mini-submarine' Invented To Blast Diseased Cells In The Body

Date:
January 16, 2009
Source:
Tel Aviv University
Summary:
Scientists developed a medical "mini-submarine" to blast diseased cells in the body. The blueprints for the submarine and a map of its proposed maiden voyage were developed earlier this year. Now the scientists will build and test-run the actual "machine" in human bodies.

A nanoparticle decorated with targeting agents that guide it to a specific cell type, leaving healthy cells untouched.
Credit: Image courtesy of Tel Aviv University

Ever since the 1966 Hollywood movie, doctors have imagined a real-life Fantastic Voyage a medical vehicle shrunk small enough to “submarine” in and fix faulty cells in the body. Thanks to new research by Tel Aviv University scientists, that reality may be only three years away.

The blueprints for the submarine and a map of its proposed maiden voyage were published earlier this year in Science by Dr. Dan Peer, who now leads the Tel Aviv University team at the Department of Cell Research and Immunology. The team will build and test-run the actual “machine” in human bodies. Dr. Peer originally developed the scenario at Harvard University.

Made from biological materials, the real-life medical submarine’s Fantastic Voyage won’t have enough room for Raquel Welch, but the nano-sized structure will be big enough to deliver the payload: effective drugs to kill cancer cells and eradicate faulty proteins.

A Nano-GPS System

“Our lab is creating biological nano-machines,” says Dr. Peer. “These machines can target specific cells. In fact, we can target any protein that might be causing disease or disorder in the human body. This new invention treats the source, not the symptoms.”

Dr. Peer’s recent paper reported on the device’s ability to target leukocytes (immune cells) in the guts of mice with ulcerative colitis. Calling his new invention a submarine, Dr. Peer has developed a nano-sized carrier which operates like a GPS system to locate and target cells. In the case of Crohn’s disease, for example, it will target overactive immune system cells in the gut. In other diseases such as cancer, the submarine can aim for and deliver material to specific cancer cells, leaving the surrounding healthy cells intact.

While other researchers are working in the area of nano-medicine and drug delivery, Dr. Peer’s submarines are among the first to combine a drug candidate with a drug delivery system. As the submarines float through the body, they latch onto the target cell and deliver their payload,a drug based on RNAi. This new kind of drug can affect faulty RNA machinery and reprogram cells to operate in normal ways. In essence, RNAi can essentially restore health to diseased cells or cause cells to die (like in the case of cancer cells).

Learning from the Body’s Own System

Large pharmaceutical companies have already expressed interest in this research and in the area of RNAi in general. Currently, the Tel Aviv University lab is pairing its medical submarine with different RNAi compounds to target different pathologies, such as cancer, inflammation, and neurodegenerative diseases.

“We have tapped into the same ancient system the human body uses to protect itself from viruses,” says Dr. Peer, who is also investigating a number of topical applications for his medical subs. “And the beauty of it is the basic material of our nano-carriers is natural,” he says.

The Tel Aviv University team plans to launch their medical submarines, following FDA regulations, within three to five years. Their immediate focus is on blood, pancreatic, breast and brain cancers.

The researchers are currently collaborating with a number of teams around the world. In the area of breast cancer, they are working with researchers from Harvard University and MIT. In blood cancers, collaboration with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School is already progressing towards clinical trials.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Tel Aviv University. "Fantastic Voyage: Medical 'Mini-submarine' Invented To Blast Diseased Cells In The Body." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090115164623.htm>.
Tel Aviv University. (2009, January 16). Fantastic Voyage: Medical 'Mini-submarine' Invented To Blast Diseased Cells In The Body. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090115164623.htm
Tel Aviv University. "Fantastic Voyage: Medical 'Mini-submarine' Invented To Blast Diseased Cells In The Body." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090115164623.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, cut full-year revenue forecasts because generics could cut into sales of its anti-arthritis drug, Celebrex. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins