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Small and Precise

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The problem with chemotherapy is that it can kill just as many healthy cells as cancer cells. Clinicians have been looking for ways to deliver chemotherapeutic agents to cancer cells in a more targeted manner to spare the healthy cells — a new nanotechnology may be just what they've been looking for, says Katherine Harmon at the Scientific American Observations blog. "A new tumor-targeting, nanoparticle-based compound called BIND-014 is now in clinical trials in people, after showing promise in both mice and monkeys," Harmon says. "Although this first trial is small, with only 17 patients, and still ongoing, researchers are reporting some positive results, and no obvious major safety setbacks." The paper, published in Science Translational Medicine, describes how the researchers used a well-known tumor-specific antigen that targets newly forming blood vessels, and loaded them with docetaxel to be delivered to the tumor.

"But the researchers did not just slap a few proteins on a nanoparticle and send it into tests. They screened more than 100 different nanoparticles with various sizes, surfaces and drug-release capabilities," Harmon adds. "The particles themselves also seem to have a good size and shape to evade the immune system, and they also shows low accumulation in the liver, suggesting they are relatively safe."

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.