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‘Bubbles’ in cells can help cancer treatment


Research from Sweden has used ‘bubbles’, that are released by cells as messengers, to develop a potentially more effective way to target the tumours of breast and skin cancer and help with treatment.

The main function of these small ‘bubbles’, called extracellular vesicles (EVs), is to aid communication between cells. So researchers, at the Karolinska Institute, in Stockholm, loaded EVs with a drug used in cancer chemotherapy.

They then attached antibodies to the surface, of the modified EVs which helped them to target specific tumours, by delivering the drug only to cancer cells, while ignoring healthy cells.

When used on mice, with breast and skin cancer, this method improved tumour targeting – with 80% of the treated mice surviving, while survival rates were 0% in the untreated mice.

Samir EL Andaloussi, lead researcher at Karolinska, said: “Ultimately, we hope this can lead to a new treatment platform that can improve treatment efficacy and reduce side effects in difficult-to-treat diseases, especially cancer.”

The research – published in Nature Biomedical Engineering – will now focus on different antibody and drug combinations, including mRNA (the same technology that was used for Covid-19 vaccines).


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