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Melanin nanoparticles may protect cancer patients during radiation therapy

27 April 2010 Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

Radiation Therapy PatientMelanin nanoparticles may help cancer patients by protecting them against the harmful effects of radiation therapy. Melanin nanoparticles are made of tiny sand particles coated with several layers of synthesized melanin pigment, the same pigment that protects our skin from the solar UV radiation.

Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine successfully tested the melanin-covered nanoparticles on mice by dividing them into two groups and injecting one of the groups with nanoparticles. After three hours both groups were exposed to whole-body radiation. After monitoring both groups for 30 days the scientists found that the mice who received the melanin nanoparticles sustained far less bone marrow damage and recovered more quickly. In a second experiment on mice scientists proved that the nanoparticles don’t interfere with the radiation therapy’s effectiveness

“A technique for shielding normal cells from radiation damage would allow doctors to administer higher doses of radiation to tumors, making the treatment more effective,” said Ekaterina Dadachova1).

“The ability to protect the bone marrow will allow physicians to use more extensive cancer-killing radiation therapies and this will hopefully translate into greater tumor response rates,” said Arturo Casadevall2).

Clinical trial testing on cancer patients could being in two to three years, according to Dr. Dadachova. The paper was published in the April 26 online issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics.

1) Ekaterina Dadachova Ph.D. – senior author of the study – , associate professor of nuclear medicine and of microbiology & immunology and the Sylvia and Robert S. Olnick Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research at Einstein
2) Arturo Casadevall, M.D., Ph.D. – co-author of the study –  professor of medicine and of microbiology & immunology, the Leo and Julia Forchheimer Chair in Microbiology & Immunology

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