New Polymer Nanoparticles Can Eliminate Colon Cancer Cells

A recent research study conducted by the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has proven how modified polymers that are electrically-conductive can be efficient in killing colon cancer cells. The modified polymer is designed to become a revolutionary nanoparticle that when exposed under infrared light, heat is generated to kill colorectal cancer cells. This polymer has been used in solar energy applications. Its ability to be modified to function for medical applications has just been recently discovered. The study was lead by Dr. Nicole H. Levi-Polyachenko along with colleagues from the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials in WFU. The findings of the study was submitted and presented in the online journal, Macromolecular Bioscience.

Dr. Levi-Polyachenko reported that their team found a formula that allowed polymers to be made into nanoparticles such that it can be easily dispersed in water, as well as the ability to generate heat under infrared light exposure. The findings of the study showed how cells of colorectal cancer nature died after being incubated and exposed to nanoparticles with infrared light for five minutes. About 95 percent of the cancer cells were killed by the treatment. Dr. Levi-Polyachenko stated that this study promotes the use of material science in medical application.

The polymer nanoparticles, also referred to as PNs, even showed that after going through repeated cycles of cooling and heating, its ability to product heat is still not affected. This can be quit advantageous, knowing that most metals in nanoparticles will melt under treatments of photothermal nature such as the infrared light exposure.

The study is a continuation of previous studies investigating on the effects of electrically-conductive polymers on medical application. According to Dr. Christopher M. MacNeill of the Wake Forest University, they designed the polymer to absorb a narrow part of the infrared light such that the particle can be optimized for heat transfer without compromising biological transport. The challenge of making sure that the particles will not leave traces of toxicity on the body has also been addressed by making sure that the PNs are organic. This omits the danger of the PNs possibly lingering in the body.

Levi-Polyachenko admits that more investigation needs to be done on the topic. However, it is a good thing to know that the field of electrically-conductive polymers is a broad field that is open for further development on safe and organic nanoparticles to generate tissue-specific heat. The future of material science in medical application is indeed bright and there much potential for progress.

Colon cancer today remains to be the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in North America. The best option available for prevention and treatment of colon cancer is colonoscopy. Colonoscopy is a screening procedure which also allows removal of discovered polyps during the operation. Today, there are a huge percentage of American individuals who still need to go through a colonoscopy screening procedure. The medical communities are doing its best to promote colon cancer awareness across the country.