The technique involves attaching drug molecules directly to a nanomaterial like graphene sheets to create nanotherapies that could help treat tumors. Nanotherapies transport drugs directly to tumors for cancer treatment.
“We’ve essentially uncovered a new way for clinicians to trigger the body’s immune system to spring into action – which is not an easy task,” said Ruhong Zhou, manager of soft matter science at IBM Research, in a press release. “This discovery could represent an incredible development in precision medicine. If these nanomaterials were targeted at, say, tumors or virus-infected cells, one could, in principal, stimulate the immune system to attack cancer and infections at their source.”
Nanotherapies have traditionally needed molecule coatings to be biocompatible to avoid damaging surrounding cells. The new research shows that polymer-coated graphene sheets can have a secondary effect that releases cytokine proteins in the body. The proteins attract immune cells like T cells and killer T cells to the graphene sheets.
Polymers helped attach nanomaterials to cell surface that helped amplify the signaling process, according to simulations on the IBM Blue Gene supercomputer. The signals are broadcasts within 6 hours of a nanodrug encounter.
The researchers suggest that clinicians might be able to use nanotherapies with traditional drug delivery, creating new ways to fight human diseases.
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