Nanoparticles, nanoshells, nanotubes: How tiny specks may provide powerful tools against cancer

ally treated tumor," explains co-author Eric Wickstrom, Ph.D., of Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

"This could be cost-effective and could diagnose whether cells are cancerous or not in a matter of minutes versus hours or days with current methods of histology sectioning," says Dr. Panchapakesan. "It might also allow for large scale production methods to make thousands of sensors and have microarrays of these to detect cancer proteins."

The researchers plan to test the technique with additional breast cancer markers, as well as with markers for other cancers. They are also planning to perform animal studies, examining the sensitivity of the antibody-nanotube system in detecting cancer cells in the blood and in detecting specific types of cancer cells shed in the blood from tumors.

Immunonanoshells for Selective Photothermal Therapy (Abstract 3198) and Nanoshells for Combined Cancer Therapy and Imaging in vivo (Abstract 2711)

Researchers at Rice University are working on a novel and systematic approach to cancer treatment that involves the use of advanced technologies that are by themselves harmless − but appear to offer potent cancer-killing properties when used together.

This tactic focuses on two main ingredients: structures called "nanoshells," which are microscopic balls consisting of a silica core coated with a thin layer of gold and, secondly, near infrared light (NIR). Used alone, nanoshells are non-toxic and can be excreted with no ill effect because gold is biologically compatible. Near-infrared light delivered by a laser has minimal interaction with components found in tissue, and so also does not harm the body.

But when nanoshells are injected into an experimental animal with cancer, they accumulate in the tumor; the addition of NIR laser light heats up their gold shell, causing the particles to destroy tumor cells. Furthermore, because of th

Contact: Warren R. Froelich
American Association for Cancer Research

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