Class of 2008
Major: Biological Engineering
Current classes: BE.109, BE.320, BE.180, 7.05
Overview and Background Information:
MIT engineers have developed a new technology to help detect cancer using nanoparticles. The following excerpt, which explains the details of this new technique, was taken from the press release:
May 1, 2006
"The research, which is just moving into animal testing, involves injecting nanoparticles (billionths of a meter in size) made of iron oxide into the body, where they flow through the bloodstream and enter tumors.
Solid tumors must form new blood vessels to grow. But because this growth is so rapid in cancerous tumors, there are gaps in the endothelial cells that line the inside of the blood vessels. The nanoparticles can slip through these gaps to enter the tumors.
Once inside the tumor, the nanoparticles can be triggered to group together by a mechanism designed by the MIT engineers. Specifically, certain enzymes, or proteases, inside the tumors cause the nanoparticles to "self-assemble" or stick together. The resulting nanoparticle clumps are too big to get back out of the gaps. Further, the clumps have a stronger magnetic signal than do individual nanoparticles, allowing detection by MRI."
Developing the technique so that it includes treatment (not just assistance with detection) for example:
1)The nanoparticles can be used to improve the specificity of chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
2) Nanoparticles can release cytotoxinsto detroy the tumors upon self-assembly.