Nanoparticles To Detect, Diagnose And Destroy Cancer

Nanoparticles To Detect, Diagnose And Destroy Cancer
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Conventional treatment seeks to eradicate cancer cells by drugs and therapy delivered from outside the cell, which may also affect (and potentially harm) nearby normal cells. In contrast to conventional cancer therapy, researchers have developed several novel designs for iron-oxide based nanoparticles that detect, diagnose and destroy cancer cells using photo-thermal therapy (PTT). PTT uses the nanoparticles to focus light-induced heat energy only within the tumor, harming no adjacent normal cells. The results of the work will be presented at the Materials Research Society Conference in Boston Nov. 30-Dec. 5.
 
With this technology, a low-power laser beam is directed at the tumor where a small amount of magnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles are present, either by injecting the particles directly into the tumor or injecting them into the blood stream whereby the particles find and bind to the abnormal cancer cells via cell-specific targeting.
 
Sufficient heat is then generated locally by the laser light, raising the tumor temperature rapidly to above 43 degrees Celsius, and thereby burning the abnormal cancer cells. This particular PTT treatment does not involve any medicine, but only generates local heat within the tumor, therefore posing much less side effects than the traditional chemo or radiation therapies.
 
The procedure can ultimately be carried out by the patient themselves after being trained how to direct a small laser light device to the affected area for a specified amount of time two to three times a day. This method can ultimately improve the success rate, as well as cut costs to the patient.


Future research in nanoparticle PTT will look at toxicity, biodegradability and compatibility issues. The team is currently looking for other diverse biodegradable materials to use for the carriers such as plant chlorophylls like those in cabbage that are both edible and photothermal. This material is biocompatible and biodegradable and can potentially stay in the tumor cells until its job is finished, then dissolve and be passed out through the digestive system.