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Science Week on PM: Creating 'little osmotic bombs'

As part of the PM programme's series of interviews with scientists, Professor Tony Ryan, a polymer chemist at Sheffield University, tells Eddie Mair how and why he is creating tiny plastic vessels that mimic human cells.

Less than a ten-thousandth the width of a hair, they could be inserted into the human body and work like little stealth bombs delivering cancer killing drugs in a highly targeted way.

Professor Ryan says his work was inspired by the 60s movie The Fantastic Voyage, comparing the vessels to "miniature submarines".

He explained how each one is a "little osmotic bomb", designed to fall apart only once it gets inside a cell with a pH different from that of blood, preventing the toxic chemotherapy drugs from affecting healthy cells.

  • 07 Dec 2012