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Re-programming immune cells with nanoparticles

Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 11:40am

Researchers from the department of chemistry, in the early online edition of ACS Nano, report progress on an innovative new use for nanoparticles:

The human body operates under a constant state of martial law. Chief among the enforcers charged with maintaining order is the immune system, a complex network that seeks out and destroys the hordes of invading bacteria and viruses that threaten the organic society as it goes about its work.

The immune system is good at its job, but it's not perfect. Most cancerous cells, for example, are able to avoid detection by the immune system because they so closely resemble normal cells, leaving the cancerous cells free to multiply and grow into life-threatening tumors while the body's only protectors remain unaware.

Shanta Dhar and her colleagues are giving the immune system a boost through their research.

"What we are working on is specifically geared toward breast cancer," said Dhar, the study's co-author and an assistant professor of chemistry in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "Our paper reports for the first time that we can stimulate the immune system against breast cancer cells using mitochondria-targeted nanoparticles and light using a novel pathway."

A full version of the paper is here. The nano scale is permitting our researchers to move closer to solutions to complex problems. Congratulations to Dhar and her group, and our hopes for further progress and success with these activated new cells.

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