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Nico Voelcker, from the University of South Australia, worked with researchers from Dresden in Germany to engineer diatom algae and loaded it with chemotherapeutic drugs. Publishing their study in the journal Nature Communications, the team also found that when they injected the nanoparticles into mice, tumours regressed.
Diatom algae is a type of tiny, unicellular, photosynthesising algae. It measures just four to six micrometres in diameter and is enclosed within a porous skeleton made of silica. Because chemotherapeutic drugs are often toxic to healthy tissue, the researchers were able to hide the drugs inside the algae.
Researchers genetically engineered the algae to produce an antibody-binding protein on the surface of their shells. In turn, the antibody binds only to molecules found on cancer cells, meaning it could deliver drugs to the target cells.............
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