Gold Nanoparticles Cancer Treatment Blog
Gold Nanoparticles are emerging as promising agents for cancer therapy and are being investigated as drug carriers, photothermal agents, contrast agents and radiosensitisers. This review introduces the field of nanotechnology with a focus on recent gold Nanoparticles research which has led to early-phase clinical trials. In particular, the pre-clinical evidence for gold Nanoparticles as sensitisers with ionising radiation in vitro and in vivo at kilovoltage and megavoltage energies is discussed.
For this therapy to be effective, the gold Nanoparticles have to attach to a cancer cell more easily than a healthy cell, otherwise the laser pulse would damage healthy tissue. To accomplish this, the researchers coated the particles in an antibody that is known to attach to the specific type of aggressive cancer they were using in the study, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. It is this antibody that attaches to the receptor at the cell membrane.
The researchers also found that there was an optimal size to the gold particles. If the particles were less then 10 billionths of a meter (10 nanometers) in diameter, the cell would quickly clear them out. If the particles were greater than 100 nanometers the cell had trouble internalizing the particles. The scientists found that the Nanoparticles which worked best for their study were around 60 billionths of a meter in diameter.
These antibody-coated gold Nano spheres were found to insert themselves into cancer cells far more readily than healthy cells; the average cluster size in healthy cells was found to be 64 nanometers (about 1 sphere), while the average cluster size in cancer cells was found to be about 300 nanometers (about 100 spheres).
One natural advantage to this process is that tumors often have leaky vascular systems, so when the gold particles are injected intravenously near the known cancer, they rapidly spread and are incorporated throughout the cancerous region. The scientists noted that 24 hours of time was needed after the injections to allow gold clusters to form in the cells.
Blowing Up the Cancer Cell
Once the Gold Nanoparticles are incorporated into cells, the researchers exposed the tissue to a laser pulse (near infrared radiation of wavelength 782 nanometers) for a duration of 30 trillionths of a second (30 picoseconds). This particular type of laser light is optimal because it penetrates tissue well and it is not resonant with the gold Nanoparticles. This means that when the light strikes the Nanoparticles it does not absorb it and immediately start warming the bulk of the gold Nanoparticles resulting in overheating the cell. Rather, during the first 10 nanoseconds some melting of the surface without bulk heating of the gold nanoparticles2 occurs, and this vaporizes the fluid around the gold Nanoparticles. The vaporized fluid rapidly expands and then collapses. However, it is imperative to note that the effect is inconsequential unless there are tens of Nanoparticles in the cluster. The creation of a Nano bubble that rapidly expands and collapses, with enough energy to destroy a cell, is dependent on the number of gold spheres in the cluster, with the severity increasing as the cluster size increases.
This selectivity of severity with size is what keeps the healthy cells safe. The gold Nanoparticles don’t do well at transforming the laser pulse to thermal energy on their own, so any Nano bubbles formed are relatively insignificant—a few spheres together in a healthy cell will not cause any damage. It is the cluster of nanoparticles within the cancer cells that effectively converts the laser pulse to thermal energy, causing vaporization of the surrounding fluid, a rapid expansion, and a collapse, leading to the destruction of the cancer cell. This event is not easily detected by optical means, but it is easily “heard” by detecting the sound wave produced during the rapid expansion and collapse.
Nanoparticles are currently employed in several medical applications and many more have been suggested, with great potential benefits for patients and medical providers. Due to their high atomic mass, gold Nanoparticles can absorb significantly more radiation than soft tissue cells, making them ideal for boosting the radiation dose in tumors or enhancing contrast of specific tissues during diagnostic imaging (e.g. doping a tissue with 1% of its weight with Nanoparticles would double the radiation dose absorbed following kV X-ray exposure).
It has been almost 4 decades since the “war on cancer” was declared. It is now generally believed that personalized medicine is the future for cancer patient management. Possessing unprecedented potential for early detection, accurate diagnosis, and personalized treatment of cancer, nanoparticles have been extensively studied over the last decade. In this review, we will summarize the current state-of-the-art of gold nanoparticles in biomedical applications targeting cancer. Gold nanospheres, nanorods, nanoshells, nanocages, and surface enhanced Raman scattering nanoparticles will be discussed in detail regarding their uses in in vitro assays, ex vivo and in vivo imaging, cancer therapy, and drug delivery. Multifunctionality is the key feature of nanoparticle-based agents. Targeting ligands, imaging labels, therapeutic drugs, and other functionalities can all be integrated to allow for targeted molecular imaging and molecular therapy of cancer. Big strides have been made and many proof-of-principle studies have been successfully performed. The future looks brighter than ever yet many hurdles remain to be conquered. A multifunctional platform based on gold nanoparticles, with multiple receptor targeting, multimodality imaging, and multiple therapeutic entities, holds the promise for a “magic gold bullet” against cancer
Biomedical applications of gold nanoparticles: Cancer nanotechnology is an interdisciplinary area with broad potential applications in fi ghting cancer, including molecular imaging, molecular diagnosis, targeted therapy, and bioinformatics. The continued development of cancer nanotechnology holds the promise for personalized oncology in which genetic and protein biomarkers can be used to diagnose and treat cancer based on the molecular profi le of each individual patient. Gold nanoparticles have been investigated in diverse areas such as in vitro assays, in vitro and in vivo imaging, cancer therapy, and drug delivery
Multifunctionality is the key advantage of nanoparticles over traditional approaches. Targeting ligands, imaging labels, therapeutic drugs, and many other functional moieties can all be integrated into the nanoparticle conjugate to allow for targeted molecular imaging and molecular therapy of cancer. Gold nanoparticle is unique in a sense because of itsintriguing optical properties which can be exploited for both imaging and therapeutic applications. The future of nanomedicine lies in multifunctional nanoplatforms which combine both therapeutic components and multimodality imaging. The ultimate goal is that nanoparticle-based agents can allow for efficient, specific in vivo delivery of drugs without systemic toxicity, and the dose delivered as well as the therapeutic efficacy can be accurately measured noninvasively over time. Much remains to be done before this can be a clinical reality and many factors need to be optimized simultaneously for the best clinical outcome.
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