Hybrid Nanogels Turn Up The Heat On Cancer Cells

Chinese researchers have synthesized hybrid nanogels that possess tumor-killing properties and can be used as a contrast agent in magnetic resonance imaging.

AsianScientist (May 24, 2018) – In a study published in Advanced Science, scientists in China have developed a method to synthesize hybrid nanogels that can be used in cancer therapy.

Researchers have been interested in generating multifunctional hybrid nanogels by combining nanomaterials in a polymer network. Such nanogels have potential applications in biomedicine due to their tunable properties that allow them to be used for bioimaging, biosensing, stimuli-responsive drug release and cancer therapy.

Nanoscale metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) demonstrate great potential for the synthesis of hybrid nanogels due to their tunable pore space and multiple imaging function. However, the complex preparation process of MOF-based hybrid nanogels limit their uptake by the biomedical sector.

In this study, researchers led by Professor Chen Qianwang at the High Magnetic Field Laboratory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences mixed manganese ions with an organic linker and dopamine to form MOF-based hybrid nanoparticles. By a process known as in situ hybridization, each dopamine molecule became individually encapsulated by the other two components.

Once the MOF-based hybrid nanoparticles had been formed, the researchers coated them in a layer of polyethylene glycol, which is a biologically inert substance that would help the nanoparticles avoid destruction by immune cells. This coating was further modified by the attachment of a functional molecular chain—thiol terminal cyclic arginine–glycine–aspartic acid peptide—which allowed the nanoparticles to accumulate preferentially in tumor cells.

The researchers found that their nanoparticles could convert light energy into heat energy, and used this property to destroy tumors. By shining near infrared light on tumors where the nanoparticles had accumulated, they were able to destroy the cancer cells. In addition, the hybrid nanogels could serve as a positive magnetic resonance contrast agent, which means that it could be used to locate tumors in the body.

The researchers suggest that their MOF-nanoparticles are highly versatile and intend to explore other applications for them in the field of biomedicine.

The article can be found at: Wang et al. (2018) In Situ One‐Pot Synthesis of MOF–Polydopamine Hybrid Nanogels with Enhanced Photothermal Effect for Targeted Cancer Therapy.


Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences; Photo: Shutterstock.
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