Targeted crystallization of mixed-charge nanoparticles in lysosomes induces selective death of cancer cells

Journal: Nature Nanotechnology

Published: 2020-03-16

DOI: 10.1038/s41565-020-0643-3

Affiliations: 3

Authors: 9

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Research Highlight

Nanoparticles exploit weakness in cancer cells’ waste-management system

© Stocktrek Images/Getty

© Stocktrek Images/Getty

Nanoparticles covered with both positively and negatively charged groups are effective at targeting lysosomes in cancer cells while having minimal effect on those in healthy cells.

Lysosomes are the cell’s garbage-disposal system, breaking up unwanted and damaged cellular components. They are attractive targets for fighting cancer because even tumour cells that are resistant to other drugs should succumb to an assault on their lysosomes. But previous approaches to disrupt lysosomes in cancer cells inflicted collateral damage on healthy cells.

Now, a team of researchers, all at the Institute for Basic Science in South Korea, has found that nanoparticles coated with an optimal mix of positive and negative groups targeted lysosomes in thirteen types of cancer cells while leaving those in healthy cells relatively unscathed.

The mixed-charge nanoparticles aggregate into crystals in cancer cells and eventually destroy the lysosomes, whereas they don’t tend to aggregate in healthy cells.

The team intends to test whether the nanoparticles are effective against tumours in animal models.

Supported content

  1. Nature Nanotechnology 15, 331–341 (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41565-020-0643-3
Institutions Share
Center for Soft and Living Matter, IBS, South Korea 0.72
Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), South Korea 0.28