Gold nanospheres target and destroy cancer cells

Hollow gold nanospheres equipped with a targeting peptide find melanoma cells, penetrate them deeply, and then cook the tumour when bathed with near-infrared light, a research team led by scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has reported in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

“Active targeting of nanoparticles to tumours is the holy grail of therapeutic nanotechnology for cancer. We’re getting closer to that goal,” said senior author Chun Li, PhD, professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Experimental Diagnostic Imaging.

In a promising new application of nanomedicine, when heated with lasers, the actively targeted hollow gold nanospheres did eight times more damage to melanoma tumours in mice than did the same nanospheres that gathered less directly in the tumours.

Lab and mouse model experiments demonstrated the first in vivo active targeting of gold nanostructures to tumours in conjunction with photothermal ablation — a minimally invasive treatment that uses heat generated through absorption of light to destroy target tissue. Tumours are burned with near-infrared light, which penetrates deeper into tissue than visible or ultraviolet light.

Photothermal ablation is used to treat some cancers by embedding optical fibres inside tumours to deliver near-infrared light. Its efficiency can be greatly improved when a light-absorbing material is applied to the tumour, Li said. Photothermal ablation has been explored for melanoma, but because it also hits healthy tissue, dose duration and volume have been limited.

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~ by vascoteixeira on February 20, 2009.

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