Algae Could Be Breakthrough Cancer Treatment

How Algae Is Changing Cancer Treatment

By Will Reid, 9:00 am on

Researchers from Australia and Germany have successfully genetically engineered algae capable of mimicking porous material that can transport nanoparticle medicine to malignant cancer cells. The new technology may one day be a viable treatment option that’s less expensive and less harmful than traditional chemotherapy. Read on for more information, presented by leading Cincinnati elderly care professionals.

Diatom algae are ten times smaller than the width of a human hair, or four to six micrometers in diameter. The algae, loaded with cancer medication, were designed to only connect with molecules found in cancer cells, transporting the drug where it is needed. The diatom algae is also a biocompatible and biodegradable drug carrier as it needs just water and light to grow and breaks down when exposed to the elements. By disguising the cancer medication within the algae, the drugs can be delivered directly to the tumor without ever coming into contact with normal cells.

According to lab tests, the engineered algae were able to kill 90 percent of cancer cells without harming healthy cells. The study found it efficient at treating and shrinking tumors in mice without harming the body.

For decades, researchers have struggled to develop a targeted form of chemotherapy that kills cancer cells. Chemotherapy, while effective, kills healthy cells as well as cancer cells, and it carries a range of side effects, some of which are permanent.

This technology is still in an early stage of development, although the use of biotechnology has already shown massive potential in the treatment of cancer. Scientists have already had limited success in the use of silica-based nanoparticles as drug carriers, but those particles are expensive to produce and use toxic chemicals. Natural silica-based diatom algae nanoparticles may be the solution to delivering cancer medication directly to tumors without the high cost or potential side effects.

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