Courtesy of Almut Mecke

Removing the positive charge on nanoparticles can improve their chemotherapeutic efficiency, say investigators at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Research presented in March at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society in Montreal showed that without the positive charge, the drug-carrying nanoparticles are less likely to be taken up by normal cells and more likely to be taken up by cancer cells.1 "That way we can direct them to tumor cells and decrease the [clinical] side effects," says Almut Mecke, a Michigan doctoral student in biological physics.

Mecke used atomic force microscopy to study charged acrylic acid particles interacting with cell membranes. He found that the positively charged nanoparticles actually damage the membranes of both normal and cancerous cells. But when the researchers replaced positively charged amine groups on the ends of the nanoparticles with neutral acetamide groups, healthy cells were left intact....

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