Gold-Plated Nanoparticles Seek and Destroy Cancer Cells

October 16, 2013

Science

Gold Plated Nanoparticles Seek and Destroy Cancer Cells

In a recently published study, researchers from Cornell University detail how they developed gold-plated nanoparticles that are able to find and destroy cancer cells.

Comparable to nano-scale Navy Seals, Cornell scientists have merged tiny gold and iron oxide particles to work as a team, then added antibody guides to steer the team through the bloodstream toward colorectal cancer cells. And in a nanosecond, the alloyed allies then kill the bad guys – cancer cells – with absorbed infrared heat.

This scenario is not science fiction – welcome to a medical reality.

“It’s a simple concept. It’s colloidal chemistry. By themselves, gold and iron-oxide alloys are benign and inert, and the infrared light is low-power heating,” said Carl Batt, Cornell’s Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Food Science and the senior author on the paper. “But put these inert alloys together, attach an antibody to guide it to the right target, zap it with infrared light and the cancer cells die. The cells only need to be heated up a few degrees to die.”

Batt and his colleagues – Dickson K. Kirui, Ph.D. ’11, a postdoctoral fellow at Houston Methodist Research Institute and the paper’s first author; Ildar Khalidov, radiology, Weill Cornell Medical College; and Yi Wang, biomedical engineering, Cornell – published their study in Nanomedicine (print edition, July 2013).

For cancer therapy, current hyperthermic techniques – applying heat to the whole body – heat up cancer cells and healthy tissue, alike. Thus, healthy tissue tends to get damaged. This study shows that by using gold nanoparticles, which amplify the low energy heat source efficiently, cancer cells can be targeted better and heat damage to healthy tissues can be mitigated. By adding the magnetic iron oxide particles to the gold, doctors watching MRI and CT scanners can follow along the trail of this nano-sized crew to its target.

When a near-infrared laser is used, the light penetrates deep into the tissue, heating the nanoparticle to about 120 degrees Fahrenheit – an ample temperature to kill many targeted cancer cells. This results in a threefold increase in killing cancer cells and a substantial tumor reduction within 30 days, according to Kirui. “It’s not a complete reduction in the tumor, but doctors can employ other aggressive strategies with success. It also reduces the dosage of highly toxic chemicals and radiation – leading to a better quality of life,” he explained.

The study was funded in part by the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, and Kirui was supported by a Sloan Foundation Graduate Fellowship.

Publication: Dickson K. Kirui, et al., “Targeted near-IR hybrid magnetic nanoparticles for in vivo cancer therapy and imaging,” Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine
Volume 9, Issue 5 , Pages 702-711, 2013; doi:10.1016/j.nano.2012.11.009

Source: Blaine Friedlander, Cornell University

Image: 3D Illustration of Nanoparticles from Shutterstock

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5 Responses to “Gold-Plated Nanoparticles Seek and Destroy Cancer Cells”

  1. George Dawson Says:

    What? I left a comment yesterday. It was a question actually. I was hoping a fellow reader might be able to answer it. Someone who has the authority to delete comments took that opportunity from me. What could be the reason for that?

    Reply

    • Staff Says:

      I only see the question you asked this morning, “What would happen if a black hole “swallowed up” an entire galaxy…?” Feel free to resubmit your question, maybe it got accidentally blocked by a spam filter. Sorry

      Reply

  2. Sean Says:

    Wow brilliant, amazing work. My mom had stage 3 breast cancer and it wasn’t nice seeing her go through radiation therapy – let alone the chemo. Brilliant work like this needs to be funded. We need to stop fighting between us, stop bombing each other, threatening each other and realize we have an epidemic that doesn’t choose sides. This enemy attacks all our country borders and we must stand up and do everything we can as a HUMAN nation to fight back.

    Reply

  3. Endecotts Says:

    So exciting the amount of cancer research and progress being made, but we still need more. Totally agree with Sean’s comment above, how much money is spent on war when there is a war that has been raging for lifetimes against a disease that doesn’t care what country, religion or ethnicity you are!

    Reply

  4. Madanagopal.V.C Says:

    These aggressive strategies of introducing gold and silver nano-particles in the form of “Buspam” which is nothing but ash of these metal oxides is already there to treat virility and other illness by “Ayurvedha” in India. I had always doubted their efficacy, but I am rather quite sure that they kill very important cells of kidneys, thus bringing nephritis in course of time. This article is the other useful side of this technique in which nano-particles are guided by the anti-body to kill the cancerous cells. I do hope that it will succeed. Thank you.

    Reply

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