JERUSALEM, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- In a development reminiscent of the science-fiction film, "Fantastic Voyage", two researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) said they've developed a microscopic " nano-vehicle" that exactly targets chemotherapy treatments at cancerous cells without damaging healthy cells nearby.
Dr. Dan Peer and Prof. Rimona Margalit are behind the tiny, but real-life development that could harbor big returns in efficiently killing cancerous cells without the common side-effects of a severely-weakened immune system, namely nausea, weakness and hair loss.
In the 1966 film, a team of doctors and a submarine were miniaturized to microscopic scale and injected into the bloodstream of a patient to repair a life-threatening blood clot.
The device itself is made up of tiny particles of chemotherapy drugs, created with an outer coating of a sugar that receptors on many kinds of cancer cells recognize. When the microscopic delivery vehicle touches the cancer cells, it releases the chemotherapeutic payload directly into the afflicted area only, avoiding damaging or destroying the healthy cells.
Peer said the device is composed of organic materials and decomposes after it has released its dose.
"The vehicle is very similar to a cluster bomb," according to Peer, who said the nano medical device would be useful in treating many different types of cancer, including lung, blood, colon, breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and even several types of brain cancers, according to a TAU statement.
Peer and Margalit said they are working with a pharmaceutical corporation in California, which has licensed the development, and is planning clinical trials by 2012.