While cancer is fairly easy to kill, keeping the person alive while we kill the cancer is exceedingly difficult. That is because cancer drugs are also toxic to healthy cells.
The most difficult aspect of engineering cancer drugs is targeting cancer cells.
That is to say, we are always looking for new ways to deliver highly toxic drugs to only cancerous tissue.
Cancer crushing algae
The newest wave of excitement in the drug delivery community is coming in the way of algae. A team of scientists genetically engineered the algae to express a specific type of protein that binds only to cancer cells.
Think of it as a resin (or glue). You need two types of proteins present for the glue to activate. Once the algae and the cancer cells are stuck together it’s time to give cancer the knockout punch.
The cancer crushing algae has a silicon core. Doctors can stuff this core with specific cancer drugs, assured that the drugs will only ever come into contact with cancerous tissue. Think of it as a super sticky backpack. Once stuck the algae unzip their packs releasing toxic drugs only in the area of a tumor.
While the cancer crushing algae is far from your local hospital, studies in human cells, and living mice have shown great promise!