Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Special Gold Nanoparticles Show Promise for “Cooking” Cancer Cells

24.03.2009
Researchers are describing a long-awaited advance toward applying the marvels of nanotechnology in the battle against cancer.

They have developed the first hollow gold nanospheres — smaller than the finest flecks of dust — that search out and “cook” cancer cells. The cancer-destroying nanospheres show particular promise as a minimally invasive future treatment for malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, the researchers say. Melanoma now causes more than 8,000 deaths annually in the United States alone and is on the increase globally.

The topic of a report presented here today at the American Chemical Society’s 237th National Meeting, the hollow gold nanospheres are equipped with a special “peptide.” That protein fragment draws the nanospheres directly to melanoma cells, while avoiding healthy skin cells. After collecting inside the cancer, the nanospheres heat up when exposed to near-infrared light, which penetrates deeply through the surface of the skin. In recent studies in mice, the hollow gold nanospheres did eight times more damage to skin tumors than the same nanospheres without the targeting peptides, the researchers say.

“This technique is very promising and exciting,” explains study co-author Jin Zhang, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California in Santa Cruz. “It’s basically like putting a cancer cell in hot water and boiling it to death. The more heat the metal nanospheres generate, the better.”

This form of cancer therapy is actually a variation of photothermal ablation, also known as photoablation therapy (PAT), a technique in which doctors use light to burn tumors. Since the technique can destroy healthy skin cells, doctors must carefully control the duration and intensity of treatment.

Researchers now know that PATs can be greatly enhanced by applying a light absorbing material, such as metal nanoparticles, to the tumor. Although researchers have developed various types of metal nanoparticles to help improve this technique, many materials show poor penetration into cancer cells and limited heat carrying-capacities. These particles include solid gold nanoparticles and nanorods that lack the desired combination of spherical shape and strong near-infrared light absorption for effective PAT, scientists say.

To develop more effective cancer-burning materials, Zhang and colleagues focused on hollow gold nanospheres — each about 1/50,000th the width of a single human hair. Previous studies by others suggest that gold “nanoshells” have the potential for strong near-infrared light absorption. However, scientists have been largely unable to produce them successfully in the lab, Zhang notes.

After years of research toward this goal, Zhang announced in 2006 that he had finally developed a nanoshell or hollow nanosphere with the “right stuff” for cancer therapy: Gold spheres with an optimal light absorption capacity in the near-infrared region, small size, and spherical shape, perfect for penetrating cancer cells and burning them up.

“Previously developed nanostructures such as nanorods were like chopsticks on the nanoscale,” Zhang says. “They can go through the cell membrane, but only at certain angles. Our spheres allow a smoother, more efficient flow through the membranes.”

The gold nanoshells, which are nearly perfect spheres, range in size from 30 to 50 nanometers — thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair. The shells are also much smaller than other nanoparticles previously designed for photoablation therapy, he says. Another advantages is that gold is also safer and has fewer side effects in the body than other metal nanoparticles, Zhang notes.

In collaboration with Chun Li, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Zhang and his associates equipped the nanospheres with a peptide to a protein receptor that is abundant in melanoma cells, giving the nanospheres the ability to target and destroy skin cancer. In tests using mice, the resulting nanospheres were found to be significantly more effective than solid gold nanoparticles due to much stronger near infrared-light absorption of the hollow nanospheres, the researchers say.

The next step is to try the nanospheres in humans, Zhang says. This requires extensive preclinical toxicity studies. The mice study is the first step, and there is a long way to go before it can be put into clinical practice, Li says.

The U.S. Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation funded the research in Zhang’s lab while the National Institutes of Health funded the work in Dr. Li’s lab.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 154,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

Michael Bernstein | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.acs.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow
25.07.2017 | Rudolf-Virchow-Zentrum für Experimentelle Biomedizin der Universität Würzburg

nachricht Fungi that evolved to eat wood offer new biomass conversion tool
25.07.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>