Cancer treatment in the future could have dramatically reduced side effects if new nanotechnology research proves useful. Heat-sensitive nanoparticles might be able to deliver drugs to a targeted location in the body—to a tumor, say—and release them on cue, a sought-after goal of biomedical research.
One research team has developed nanoparticle cages that can be stuffed with tiny amounts of drugs that are only released on demand.
These “nanocages” are cubes of gold, with sides about 50-billionths of a meter long and holes at each corner.
They are easily made, using silver particles as a mold, and then coated with strands of a smart polymer. The polymer strands are normally extended and bushy and cover the holes in the cube. But when heated the strands collapse, leaving the holes open and allowing the drug inside to escape [The New York Times]. The researchers say they can engineer the nanocages to stick to tumors.