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Saying it With Diamonds

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A new study in Science Translational Medicine suggests diamonds may prove more useful than simply providing friendship to Marilyn Monroe, says Science's Sara Reardon. Researchers at Northwestern University are using nanodiamonds as chemotherapy delivery devices to shrink tumors in lab mice. One of the big challenges in chemotherapy is getting around a cancer cell's drug resistance mechanisms, Reardon says. The researchers found that if the drugs are attached to a nanoparticle, the combination of the two produces a molecule that is too big for the cancer cells to "pump" out — and because diamonds are multifaceted, a nanodiamond can bind to a variety of drug molecules for delivery into a tumor. To test the effectiveness of nanodiamonds, the researchers attached them to doxorubicin and injected them into mice with drug-resistant breast and liver cancer, Reardon reports. With the addition of the nanodiamonds, the drug stayed in the mice 10 times longer than it would have alone, and the tumors shrank. "Blinging out the drug helped make it less toxic as well," Reardon adds. "The researchers were able to inject the mice with doses of doxorubicin that normally would be lethal. But the drug stayed bound to the diamond until it reached the tumor, so it didn't damage cells elsewhere in the body, and the animals survived." The research team is now planning trials on larger animals.

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