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Machine can unboil an egg and make targeted cancer drugs

Health

LIKE an innovative science infomercial – but wait, there’s more! – a new tool developed by a scientist in South Australia is turning out to have practical uses in many industries, including the production of cancer drugs.

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The vortex fluidic device — which achieved international attention for its capacity to ‘unboil’ an egg — has now been used to create miniature packages of anti-cancer drugs for targeted treatment.

Professor Colin Raston, the South Australian Premier's Professorial Research Fellow in Clean Technology at Flinders University, has created the device and has been working with collaborators in Australia and the United States to develop the new applications.

“We found that this technology can increase the loading of second generation anti-cancer carboplatin drugs into delivery vehicles from 17 per cent to 75 per cent,” said Professor Raston.

“This not only would have a direct benefit of reducing the negative side-effects which affect patient health, but of being able to use less of the drug.”

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nanoparticleRaston

SansomProfessor Ian Olver

“Carboplatins are used to treat many types of cancer, including bladder, lung, testicular, ovarian and some breast cancers,” said Professor Olver, who is a cancer specialist.

“When you put drugs like this inside nanoparticles you can target treatment to the tumour by delivering higher doses more locally,” he said. “This reduces the impact of side effects that come with systemic delivery.”

Although the use of nanoparticles in medicine has only been theoretical, Professor Olver said that in reality we are getting closer and closer to seeing them incorporated into clinical practice. 

“We’re probably only talking about being a few years rather than decades away from using this kind of technology now,” he said.

The vortex fluidic device used to manufacture the carboplatin-loaded nanoparticles is a suitcase-sized piece of equipment that applies very high sheer forces to liquids fed into the system through spinning a tube at high velocity.

“It’s the application of the sheer forces that allows you to pack extra drug molecules into each nanoparticle,” said its inventor Professor Raston.

The vortex fluidic device is also displaying potential to be used a tool for manufacture of other drugs, and in the production of biofuels.

“It’s a stunningly simple approach to apply sheer forces to reorganize matter in a controlled way,” said Professor Raston.  “The device is turning out to have myriad applications, it’s beyond my wildest dreams.” 

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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