Scientists have designed a new self-assembling nanoparticle that targets tumours, to help doctors diagnose cancer earlier. The new nanoparticle, developed by researchers at Imperial College London, boosts the effectiveness of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanning by specifically seeking out receptors that are found in cancerous cells.
The nanoparticle is coated with a special protein, which looks for specific signals given off by tumours, and when it finds a tumour it begins to interact with the cancerous cells. This interaction strips off the protein coating, causing the nanoparticle to self-assemble into a much larger particle so that it is more visible on the scan.
A new study published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, used cancer cells and mouse models to compare the effects of the self-assembling nanoparticle in MRI scanning against commonly used imaging agents and found that the nanoparticle produced a more powerful signal and created a clearer MRI image of the tumour. The scientists say the nanoparticle increases the sensitivity of MRI scanning and will ultimately improve doctor’s ability to detect cancerous cells at much earlier stages of development. – Edited from Self-assembling nanoparticle could improve MRI scanning for cancer diagnosis.