Pratt Research

Harnessing Fat to Attack Cancer

Scientists at Duke University Medical Center and Duke's Pratt School of Engineering have harnessed the much maligned fat particle to serve a higher purpose: battling human cancers. The researchers have engineered microscopic fat bubbles into "smart bombs" by packing them with anticancer drugs and dispatching them on a mission to seek and destroy cancerous tumors. They said they have begun testing the new heat-sensitive liposome in women whose breast cancers have recurred in their chest wall.

Their latest results appeared in the Jan. 2, 2007, issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“Molecular Condom” Holds Promise in the Fight against HIV/AIDS

Scientists at the University of Utah and Duke's Pratt School have designed a "molecular condom" that women could use daily to prevent AIDS. The condom consists of a vaginally inserted liquid that turns into a gel-like coating and then, when exposed to semen, returns to liquid form and releases an antiviral drug.

Pratt alumus Patrick Kiser and colleagues, including David Katz of the Pratt School and Duke University Medical Center, report development of the molecular condom in a study published Dec. 11, 2006, in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. The study follows another recent report by Katz’s team detailing a computer model that can predict the effectiveness of various "microbicidal" recipes in destroying HIV before it reaches vulnerable body tissues.