Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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NU scientists find material to combat chemo resistance

A finding by a Northwestern research team was published in the March 9 edition of Science Translational Medicine and discussed the use of nanodiamonds in chemo-resistant therapy, marking a breakthrough in cancer research.

Dean Ho, professor of biomedical and mechanical engineering at NU, said he believes nanodiamonds, small carbon-based particles shaped like diamonds, are the best material to use in battling chemotherapy resistance.

“Using nanodiamonds are not the only material that works,” Ho said, “but we want to have as many benefits in one system as possible. It needs to be scalable, safe, leave the body and improve treatment.”

Nanodiamonds are a unique material because the performance of combating chemotherapy resistance is significantly enhanced when they are used, Ho said. By binding the substance with a common chemotherapy drug doxorubicin, the complex is able to reduce tumor size and maintain safety of treatment. This avoids a major side effect of cancer treatment – a reduction in white blood cell count. According to Ho, the most critical aspect of binding nanodiamonds to drugs is that the dose can be doubled and still remain innocuous, unlike other drugs in the past, which would be lethal if dosage were increased.

“That’s important because now we’re optimizing safety and effect,” Ho said.

Researchers are still trying to improve scaled-up production of the nanodiamond complex. To be able to increase yield of the drug complex will be ideal because it will be able to kill more tumors, Ho said. This is currently a challenge for the nanotechnology field. Once researchers are able find a solution and finish research on animals, they will be able to move toward clinic research and apply treatment onto humans even faster.

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NU scientists find material to combat chemo resistance