Study shows that gentle, highly-targeted cancer treatment using nanoparticles and lasers works.
Previous studies show that traditional cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy have major side affects. This is because they affect both cancer tumours and healthy parts of the body. Now, a study from researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute and the University of Copenhagen have develops a method based on lasers and nanoparticles that are injected directly into the cancer tumour, which can destroy the cancer from within. The team state that their treatment has been tested on mice and it has been demonstrated that the cancer tumors are considerably damaged. The opensource study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Previous studies show that photothermal therapy, which involves the application of plasmonic nanoparticles as light-triggered thermal transducers, is a promising new tool to inflict localized and irreversible damage to tumour tissue by hyperthermia, without harming surrounding healthy tissue. However, as additional types of optimized plasmonic nanoparticles are continuously being developed there is an urgent need for efficient strategies to quantify and compare their light-to-heat converting capabilities, and thereby their potential for photothermal cancer therapy. The current study develops a new treatment that only affects cancer tumours locally and therefore is much more gentle on the body.
The current study utlises mice which are given cancer tumours of laboratory cultured human cancer cells. The treatment involves injecting tiny nanoparticles directly into the cancer. The nanoparticles are between 80 and 150 nanometers in diameter, consisting of either solid gold or a shell structure consisting of a glass core with a thin shell of gold around it. The nanoparticles are then heated up from outside using lasers. The lab explain that it is the strong interaction between the nanoparticles and the laser light which causes the particles to heat up; when this happens, the heated particles damage or kill the cancer cells.
Data findings show that the best results were obtained with nanoparticles that were 150 nanometers in size and consisted of a core of glass coated with gold. The researchers state that the nanoparticles were illuminated with near-infrared laser light, which is the best at penetrating through the tissue. Results show that, in contrast to conventional radiation therapy, the near-infrared laser light causes damage to the tissue that it passes through. They go on to add that just an hour after the treatment, it was observed via PET scans that the cancer cells had been killed and the effect continued for at least two days after the treatment.
The team surmise their findings show a strategy that can be reliably used to screen and evaluate the potential of any nanoparticle for photothermal treatment. For the future, the researchers state they would like the method to work by injecting the nanoparticles into the bloodstream, where they end up in the tumours that may have metastasized.
Source: Niels Bohr Institute