Cancer is a broad term. It describes the disease that results when cellular changes cause the uncontrolled growth and division of cells.Some types of cancer cause rapid cell growth, while others cause cells to grow and divide at a slower rate.
Most of the body’s cells have specific functions and fixed lifespans. While it may sound like a bad thing, cell death is part of a natural and beneficial phenomenon called apoptosis. A cell receives instructions to die so that the body can replace it with a newer cell that functions better. Cancerous cells lack the components that instruct them to stop dividing and to die.
Talking about treatment of cancer, there are many ways of cancer treatment. This will depend upon the type of cancer and how advanced it is. Most cancer patients have a combination of treatments, such as surgery with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. There are also chances that these cancer treatments do not work. Researchers from Northeastern University suggest that this might be because of the shape of the molecules in the drugs and not the chemical in them. The new technology that they are working on could help revitalize these drugs and help them do their job.
Ke Zhang, an associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology is currently focusing on lung cancer. He says his laboratory is developing a technology that will make the oligonucleotides larger than typical proteins so that they can stay and circulate in the blood for a longer duration without getting flushed out.
The brush analogy involved in making these oligonucleotide molecules bigger says that the researchers use polyethylene glycol (PEG) to make a brush like structure. This structure has to be permeable so that the oligos can interact with the diseased cells. These complications makes these drugs very expensive.
The researchers conclude by saying that these polymer shaped molecules could be the key to improving the efficiency of the cancer drugs to their full potential.