Colorado Daily, CO 04-08-06 Iowa State U. prof develops new cancer treatment By Karl Peterson Iowa State Daily (Iowa State U.) (U-WIRE) AMES, Iowa - A new development in science technology has potential to change medicine forever. Dr. Victor Shang-Yi Lin, associate professor of chemistry at Iowa State University, and his research group are developing a nanotechnology platform that could have a profound effect on disciplines ranging from cancer treatment to genetic research. Lin's work involves materials called mesoporous silica nanospheres. These structures, with a particle diameter less then one-hundredth that of a strand of human hair, contain numerous duct-like channels. The channels present a unique opportunity for nanoscopic chemical storage and delivery, whether the payload is anti-tumor drugs, nutrients or custom genetic material. “Our ultimate goal is to use these structures like a Trojan horse,” Lin said. “The idea is that we can hide different drugs or imaging agents inside.” When the passenger chemicals are securely contained in the nanostructure, it becomes much easier to deliver them in a very precise manner to plant or animal cells. The delivery of chemotherapy drugs to the tumor sites of cancer patients is one example of how it can benefit doctors and patients. “The problem with anti-tumor drugs is that they do not only kill tumor cells,” Lin said. Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy have long experienced debilitating and dangerous side effects when the healthy cells of their body are attacked by anti-tumor drugs, but Lin has found that porous nanostructures offer a new way to approach the problem. “One way to circumvent the problem is to have a carrier that will actually deliver this drug selectively to the tumor site without hurting the normal cells ... that's the holy grail,” Lin said. For the nanospheres to function effectively as carriers, they must be capable of entering a cell without being destroyed. Fortunately, investigation of this question has provided promising results. “Our particles turn out to be very biocompatible,” Lin said.