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Rod-shaped nanoparticles, rather than spherical, appear more effective at adhering to cells

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Posted June 11, 2013

Conventional treatments for diseases such as cancer can carry harmful side effects—and the primary reason is that such treatments are not targeted specifically to the cells of the body where they’re needed. What if drugs for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases can be targeted specifically and only to cells that need the medicine, and leave normal tissues untouched?

A new study involving Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute’s Erkki Ruoslahti, M.D., Ph.D., contributing to work by Samir Mitragotri, Ph.D., at the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that the shape of nanoparticles can enhance drug targeting. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that rod-shaped nanoparticles—or nanorods—as opposed to spherical nanoparticles, appear to adhere more effectively to the surface of endothelial cells that line the inside of blood vessels.

“While nanoparticle shape has been shown to impact cellular uptake, the latest study shows that specific tissues can be targeted by controlling the shape of nanoparticles. Keeping the material, volume, and the targeting antibody the same, a simple change in the shape of the nanoparticle enhances its ability to target specific tissues,” said Mitragotri.

“The elongated particles are more effective,” added Ruoslahti. “Presumably the reason is that if you have a spherical particle and it has binding sites on it, the curvature of the sphere allows only so many of those binding sites to interact with membrane receptors on the surface of a cell.”

In contrast, the elongated nanorods have a larger surface area that is in contact with the surface of the endothelial cells. More of the antibodies that coat the nanorod can therefore bind receptors on the surface of endothelial cells, and that leads to more effective cell adhesion and more effective drug delivery.

Read more at: Phys.org

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