Hospital Sant Joan de Déu
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Artificial molecules to treat and diagnose neuroblastoma

Investigadora sonriendo en el laboratorio
Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Researchers from different centres in the Community of Madrid have developed specific molecular scaffolds capable of directing drugs and other diagnostic molecules to neuroblastoma, a type of childhood tumour with a complicated prognosis. This nervous system tumour is currently treated with chemotherapy, but the existing drugs are inefficient and too aggressive for patients due to the wide variety of side effects they generate in the body.

The work, published in the international edition of the journal Angewandte Chemie, shows the synthesis of a family of molecules that specifically bind to a tumour target protein. This is present in the cell membrane of more than 90% of neuroblastoma cells and is known as norepinephrine transporter (NET). The designed molecules fit exactly with the NET protein recognition centres, like a key that fits in its lock. This makes the recognition process between the drug and the tumour cell highly selective and prevents the healthy cells of tissues neighbouring the tumour from being affected, reducing side effects.

The study of these molecular scaffolds has been carried out in a line of mice with neuroblastoma and it has been possible to demonstrate the efficacy of the transport of both drugs and other molecules for the diagnosis of this rare paediatric tumour... 

The development of better oncological therapies for paediatric patients is one of the greatest challenges of nanotechnology research. Although the results of the present study are certainly optimistic, the transition from animal model to the clinical model will still have to wait from 2 to 5 years to begin to see what effects they have on humans.

Access to the original article: Molecular scaffolds as double‐targeting agents for the diagnosis and treatment of neuroblastoma. Angewandte Chemie-International Edition. 

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