Giving Compass' Take:

· Researchers at Vanderbilt University have found a way to use nanotech injections to target and kill cancer cells that escaped during surgeries.

· How can donors support further research into this technology? 

· Read more about research into potential cancer treatments.

Cellular soldiers created using the body’s own defenses can track down and kill cancer cells that escape during surgeries, researchers report.

This could prevent metastasis and save lives, particularly in cases of triple negative breast cancer.

Researchers attached two proteins to the surface of lipid nanoparticles: TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand—or TRAIL—and the adhesion receptor E-selectin. The injected nanoparticles then adhere to white blood cells, and the introduction of these TRAIL-coated leukocytes into the bloodstream before, during, and after tumor removal kills all cancer cells loosed as a result.

“Collisions between the TRAIL-coated leukocytes and cancer cells in the bloodstream are happening constantly,” says Michael King, a professor of engineering and chair of the biomedical engineering department at Vanderbilt University.

“We’ve tested this both in the bloodstream and in hundreds of blood samples from cancer patients being treated in clinics across the country. In all cases, within two hours, the viable cancer cells are cleared out. This has worked with breast, prostate, ovarian, colorectal, and lung cancer cells.”

Not only can the method work during surgeries, King says, but also potentially with patients who already suffer metastatic cancer in multiple sites and who have no worthwhile treatment options. Because all the components of the TRAIL-coated leukocytes occur naturally in the body, it increases the potential for a quicker path from the bloodstreams of mouse models to human trials.

Read the full article about the nanotech injection targeting cancer cells by Spencer Turney at Futurity.