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Using nanocapsules to improve efficiency of radiotherapy

  • Researcher: Dr Khuloud Al-Jamal
  • Institution: King's College London, England
  • Award Amount: £197,494 for 4 years from December 2012
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
Using nanocapsules to improve efficiency of radiotherapy
Radiotherapy is one of the main forms of treatment against cancer. High energy rays are directed to the cancer-affected area in order to destroy the cancerous cells, in an attempt to cause as little damage as possible to healthy cells. However, when the beams are fired at the tumour from outside the body they need to pass through the healthy tissues that surround the tumour first. Several other mechanisms for delivering radiotherapy are being tested that could be much more effective than the current method. Nanocapsules (small capsules that are one-thousandth the size of a human hair) that can be filled with small doses of therapeutic radioactive particles are being tested to see if they can kill tumour cells. Nanocapsules are also being tested for the transport of other particles, such as drugs to treat other diseases. With her Worldwide Cancer Research grant, Dr Al-Jamal will test whether small molecules, called siRNAs, which are thought to make cancer cells more susceptible to radiotherapy, can be delivered to tumours at the same time as the radioactive particles, using the nanocapsules. If successful, this new technique could reduce the toxic effects of radiotherapy in healthy tissues, and the side effects that patients experience.
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