BALTIMORE, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists have developed a technology that fights colorectal cancer using tiny molecules to deliver radiation to the interior of cancer cells.
The technology was created at Johns Hopkins University by Dr. Stephen Meltzer and colorectal cancer specialist John Abraham. They designed small bits of protein 10 amino acids long as the foundation for their drugs.
The team attached radioactive phosphorous, P32, as a test of how well their peptides worked and "to our surprise, our first tests showed that cells were ingesting these molecules, thus transferring the radiation inside and killing them by breaking up their DNA and proteins," Abraham said.
While noting the new radiation delivery system is far from ready for use in people, Abraham noted P32 emits high energy that can penetrate through 5 millimeters of human tissue, making it a good candidate to tackle colon cancer since colon cancer cells can often form large, thick tumors into which drugs might not penetrate well.
In addition, he said P32-labeled peptides might also be able to find small metastases of colon tumors while they are small enough to treat.
The research is detailed in the online journal PLoS One.