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Only diseased cells

Graphic representation of nanoparticles interacting with a tumor cell

Mateus Cardoso/LNLSGraphic representation of nanoparticles interacting with a tumor cellMateus Cardoso/LNLS

Transporting an antitumor compound through the bloodstream and having it target only diseased cells without damaging healthy ones is a strategy currently being studied in many laboratories around the world. In Brazil, an experiment headed by Mateus Borba Cardoso of the National Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS) used folate, a type of vitamin B, to envelop silica nanoparticles and increase their ability to interact with tumor cells. The nanoparticles contained a compound to destroy cancer cells. “Tumors are excellent folate receptors,” says Cardoso. The nanoparticles were filled with curcumin, a substance extracted from turmeric (Curcuma longa) that has been studied as an anticancer agent (see Pesquisa FAPESP Issue nº 168). In the experiment, conducted in collaboration with the Biosciences National Laboratory (LNBio) and the National Nanotechnology Laboratory (LNNano) and funded by FAPESP, the tumor cells were destroyed and the healthy cells were scarcely affected (Langmuir, April 5, 2016).