Killing Tissue-Deep Tumors With Light

Scientists have developed gold nanoparticles that can be used to kill tumors buried deep within tissue.

AsianScientist (Jul 29, 2014) – Scientists have developed nanomaterials capable of simultaneous photodynamic therapy and photothermal therapy to treat tumors. When illuminated under specific wavelengths, these nanomaterials are able to produce reactive oxygen species and heat at the same time, killing tumor cells. This research has been published in the journal Advanced Materials.

Tissues are most penetrable by near-infrared light at two regions of wavelength, dubbed the biological window. Thus far, researchers have only been able to make anti-tumor nanomaterials work at the lower wavelengths of region I, where tissue penetration is poorer.

Recently, a team of scientists led by Professor Kuo Chu Hwang from National Tsinghua University have created the first nanomaterials that are capable of operating under region II of the biological window. This region is more tissue transparent, allowing scientists to treat tumors buried deep in the tissue.

The team employed multibranch gold nanostructures, called nanoechinus, which are the only type of nanomaterials shown to exert a photohermal effect in region II. When used to treat mice, near zero-tumor growth was reported after two weeks of treatment with gold nanoechinus, compared to 50 times of tumor growth with conventional anticancer drugs.

“From the exceptionally high extinction coefficients, the ability to exert both photodynamic and phothermal therapies in the second biological window with the larger tissue penetration depths of near-infrared light, we expect that gold nanoechinuses hold a great promise in the near future for the treatment of deep-tissue buried tumors,” says Prof. Hwang.

The article can be found at: Vijayaraghavan et al. (2014) Designing Multi-Branched Gold Nanoechinus for NIR Light Activated Dual Modal Photodynamic and Photothermal Therapy in the Second Biological Window.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine.
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Chandra is an editor working at World Scientific Publishing. He has a PhD in biomaterials engineering.

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