Angela Hernandez
Apr 5, 2012

Newly developed nanostars deliver drugs directly to cancer cell's nucleus

Northwestern University scientists have developed a specialized nanoparticle, called nanostars, that can deliver a drug directly to a cancer cell’s nucleus. The nanoparticle is made of gold and shaped like a star with five to 10 points. The drug used in the study is a single strand DNA aptamer that serves two functions: binding to nucleolin -- a protein overexpressed in cancer cells -- and acting as the drug itself when released from the nanostar. The gold nanostars make their way to the cell nucleus and ultrafast pulses of light are directed at the cells. The light cleaves the bond attachments between the gold surface and DNA aptamers, which then can enter the nucleus. This method of drug delivery, once optimized, could be useful in cases where tumors lie close to the skin’s surface, such as skin and some breast cancers.