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Biomagnets — How Do They Work?

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Creating effective therapies for cancer is only step one of treating the disease. Step two involves finding a way to deliver those therapies where they can do the most good against tumor cells while leaving as many healthy cells alone as possible. Oklahoma-based biotech firm Nanobiomagnetics is working in collaboration with researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center on a new targeted chemotherapy delivery system that is meant to do exactly that, reports NewsOK's Paula Burkes. The company has combined magnetic nanoparticles of iron oxide with the breast cancer drug paclitaxel, and then, in mice, the MD Anderson researchers used external magnets to direct the drug to the tumor to halt its growth, Burkes says. "Here's how it works: As nanoparticles in the bloodstream near and — under force from external magnets — are attracted into the tumor, they release therapeutics that kill the tumor from the inside. But when the particles aren't near the tumor, they have no bioactivity or toxicity, so they'll float through the bloodstream until cleared by the kidneys," she adds. This delivery system is small and forceful enough to get past a tumor's defenses and deliver five times the conventional dose of chemotherapy. Pending FDA approval, the company hopes to start clinical trials within two years.

The Scan

Shape of Them All

According to BBC News, researchers have developed a protein structure database that includes much of the human proteome.

For Flu and More

The Wall Street Journal reports that several vaccine developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.

To Boost Women

China's Ministry of Science and Technology aims to boost the number of female researchers through a new policy, reports the South China Morning Post.

Science Papers Describe Approach to Predict Chemotherapeutic Response, Role of Transcriptional Noise

In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.