From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published January 23, 2013 09:10 AM

Treating Lymphoma With Nanoparticles Rather Than Chemotherapy

The traditional method for treating lymphoma, a cancer of the blood in which the white blood cells behave abnormally, is through chemotherapy. This method attempts to beat the cancer cells through a standardized regimen of chemotherapeutic agents. Chemotherapy sometimes cures the disease, and other times, its aim is to simply prolong an individual's life. Other types of treatment may include radiotherapy and/or bone marrow transplantation, both of which have their own sets of complications. New research has unveiled a new method for treating lymphoma which may be both more effective and without any significant drawbacks. The method involves injecting synthetic nanoparticles which can deprive the cancer cells of an essential nutrient, resulting in the death of the cancer.


Lymphoma cancer cells depend on HDL cholesterol to keep them going. The new nanoparticle disguises itself as HDL cholesterol which the cancer cell will greedily snatch up. In actuality, the nanoparticle plugs up the cancer cell, blocking cholesterol from entering, killing the cell.

The research into the use of the nanoparticle to treat lymphoma can be attributed to C. Shad Thaxton, M.D., and Leo I. Gordon, M.D. from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

According to Gordon, "This has the potential to eventually become a nontoxic treatment for B-cell lymphoma which does not involve chemotherapy. It's an exciting preliminary finding."

The nanoparticle was originally developed by Thaxton as a possible therapy for heart disease. It looks like, and has the same surface chemistry as a natural HDL cholesterol particle. But it has something special at its core which sets it apart: a five nanometer gold particle.

The nanoparticle becomes attaches to the B-cell lymphoma cell and begins to suck out the cholesterol that provides nourishment to the cell. Meanwhile, the gold at its core prevents the cell from replenishing itself with more cholesterol.

"Gold has a good track record of being compatible with biologic systems," Thaxton said. The nanoparticle does not appear to be toxic in trial runs involving mice. However, like all new drugs, the nanoparticle will have to undergo further testing.

This study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Nanoparticles image via Shutterstock

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