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June 2016

New Chemical ‘Sponges’ Designed to Soak Up Toxic Cancer-fighting Drugs After Targeting Tumors


Doctors have a powerful arsenal of cancer-fighting chemotherapy drugs to choose from, though a key challenge is to better target these drugs to kill tumors while limiting their potentially harmful side effects.

Users of the Molecular Foundry, who also use the ALS, are helping to develop and test materials for a new device that can be inserted via a tiny tube into a vein and soak up most of these drugs like a sponge. That’s after a separate tube delivers a more concentrated dose to tumors—and before the drugs can widely circulate in the bloodstream.

Researchers say the drug-capture system could also potentially be applied to antibiotic treatments in combating dangerous bacterial infections while limiting their side effects.

The team uses facilities at the Molecular Foundry to develop the specialized polymers and study their nanostructures to better understand the drug-capture mechanism at microscopic scales and inform new designs.

Read the full press release.