From an article by Edwin L. Aguirre:
In the past decade, nanotechnology has become an important tool in the fight against breast cancer. Using nanoparticles measuring only billionths of a meter in size, doctors are able to deliver drug molecules directly to the affected tissue.
“A nanoparticle-based drug called Abraxane is being used in clinics worldwide to treat breast cancer patients,” says chemical engineering Asst. Prof. Prakash Rai. “However, the disease continues to be a major health concern.”
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among women in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013 nearly 231,000 women were diagnosed with the disease, and close to 41,000 died from it. “There is a dire need for better, more effective treatments with lower side effects,” says Rai.
Common side effects of chemotherapy include nausea, weakened immune system and loss of weight, appetite and hair. Some side effects can be life-threatening, such as hypersensitivity reactions and decreasing white blood cell count.
Rai was awarded a grant by the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NCI/NIH) totaling more than $725,000 to study a combined, nanotechnology-based diagnostic/therapeutic strategy for the targeted treatment of two subtypes of breast cancer: the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 positive (HER2+) and the triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).