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February 22, 2023

Multidrug Cancer Treatment

Chemists from MIT have developed a bottlebrush-shaped polymer nanoparticle for targeting cancer with multiple drug therapies.

Credit: U.S. National Science Foundation

Cancer affects millions of people around the world, and the numbers are staggering; half of men and one in three women will have a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime -- this according to the American Cancer Society. And with over 100 types of cancer, finding effective treatments can be challenging. But researchers are making progress, and the U.S. National Science Foundation is supporting some of the most innovative work in this field.

One exciting approach is the use of combination therapies, which can be more effective than single drug treatments. But getting the right mix of drugs, in the right place can be difficult. That's where a team of NSF supported chemists from MIT come in.

They've developed a unique bottlebrush-shaped nanoparticle that can be loaded with multiple drugs in precise, easily controllable ratios. And in a study with mice, they found that this platform was able to shrink tumors much more effectively than the same drugs in the same concentrations -- but not tethered to a nanoparticle.

Their results are promising, with a 35% increase in survival rates. And this technology could be used to treat a variety of cancers.

In fact, members of this research team have founded Window Therapeutics. With a NSF Small Business Innovation Research grant, the company is working to develop these particles for a new class of antibody-based immunotherapies.

To learn more about this groundbreaking work and other science and engineering news, subscribe to "NSF's Discovery Files" podcast. Let's keep pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the fight against cancer.

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