How Algae Is Revolutionizing Cancer Treatment

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How Algae Might Improve Cancer Treatments in Columbus, OH

As a leading provider of elderly care in Columbus, Home Care Assistance strives to bring relevant and interesting information to local families and their senior loved ones, which is why we’d like to share the following information that could potentially impact the way cancer is currently treated.

Researchers have long sought a way to treat cancer without harming the body. Current chemotherapy medications are effective in killing cancer cells, however, they kill healthy cells as well, leading to a long list of temporary and permanent side effects. Researchers from Germany and Australia have recently made a breakthrough in the use of targeted chemotherapy by genetically engineering algae to carry cancer-killing medicine directly to cancer cells.

Researchers have been working on a nanoparticle-based drug delivery system for years to send medication-loaded silica particles into the body to kill cancer cells. The down side to this form of therapy is the nanoparticles are very expensive to produce and they require the use of toxic industrial chemicals.

This year, a team of researchers successfully engineered diatom algae to do the job of synthetic nanoparticles–both safer and more affordably. Diatom algae are a microscopic single-cell organism with a translucent cell wall made of natural silica, the same type of material currently used to manufacture nanoparticles.

The diatom algae were genetically engineered with an antibody-binding protein on the surface of its silica skeleton. These nanoparticles only bind with molecules found in cancer cells, not healthy cells, before releasing cancer medication.

After loading the diatom with chemotherapy medication, the team of researchers tested the nanoparticles on cancer cells in vitro and in mice with neuroblastoma tumors. The algae successfully killed 90 percent of cancer cells without harming healthy human cells in a petri dish. A single dose of the engineered algae also reduced tumor growth in mice. The mice did not experience any tissue damage from the chemotherapy and the diatom, after fulfilling its purpose, degraded safely.

While this research is still in the early stages, it represents an important breakthrough in cancer drug delivery. The engineered algae have great potential for future treatment of tumors in humans, particularly tumors that cannot be treated with chemotherapy or surgery.

If your senior loved one is undergoing treatment for a serious ailment or is in recovery, he or she could likely use additional support with routine tasks. We offer part-time and live-in senior care in Columbus, and our caregivers can provide transportation, help with everyday tasks, and offer emotional support and companionship. To learn more, please call (614) 481-8888 and speak with a friendly Care Manager today.

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