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Beating Cancer With Brains Not Brutes

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One of my favorite tales from Greek mythology -- an example of wit and wisdom reigning over brutes and barbarians -- is the story of how the Greeks defeated the Trojans sometime in the 12th or 13th century BC.

In what was seemingly a never-ending battle, one that the Greeks appeared destined to lose, the Greek soldiers presented a peace offering to the Trojans in the form of a massive wooden horse.

The Trojans -- full of vanity and arrogance -- accepted the horse -- full of Greek soldiers -- into the walls of their city. At nightfall when the Trojans were fast asleep the Greeks emerged from the horse, set the city on fire and ultimately defeated the Trojans.

Apparently, I’m not the only person who has been impacted by the Trojan horse tale.

Researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, have found a way to apply the Trojan horse concept to fighting cancer cells.

The research was funded by, among others, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Follow-on Fund and will be published in next week’s journal, Biomaterials.

The London-based researchers have successfully delivered a common chemotherapy drug to cancer cells inside tiny microparticles by coating the microparticles with a special protein called CD95. By disguising these microparticles with CD95, cancer cells willingly accept and ingest the particles -- and ultimately the chemotherapy drug called paclitaxel -- that otherwise would have been rejected by the cancer cells.

The drug, delivered in this way, reduced ovarian cancer tumors in an animal model by 65 times more than using the standard method. This approach is now being developed for clinical use.

Dr. Davidson Ateh, who worked on the research at Queen Mary, University of London and set up the start-up company, BioMoti, which will develop the technology for clinical use said, "It's like we've made a re-enactment of the battle of Troy but on the tiniest scale. In Troy, the Greeks fooled the Trojans into accepting a hollow horse full of soldiers -- we've managed to trick cancer cells into accepting drug-filled microparticles."

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.