Date Published: 7 July 2011
Gold nanoparticles in new hope for treatment of cancers
Gold nanoparticles bring scientists closer to a treatment for cancer
Scientists at Southampton University (England) have developed smart nanomaterials that can disrupt the blood supply to cancerous tumours.
The research team led by Dr Antonios Kanaras - lecturer in physics at the University of Southampton, showed that a small dose of gold nanoparticles can activate or inhibit genes that are involved in angiogenesis - a process responsible for the supply of oxygen and nutrients to most types of cancer.
" The peptide-functionalised gold nanoparticles that we synthesised are very effective in the deliberate activation or inhibition of angiogenic genes," said Dr Kanaras.
The team went a step further to control the degree of damage to the endothelial cells using laser illumination. Endothelial cells construct the interior of blood vessels and play a pivotal role in angiogenesis.
The researchers also found that the gold particles could be used as effective tools in cellular nanosurgery.
Dr Kanaras added:
" We have found that gold nanoparticles can have a dual role in cellular manipulation. Applying laser irradiation, we can use the nanoparticles either to destroy endothelial cells, as a measure to cut the blood supply to tumours, or to deliberately open up the cellular membrane in order to deliver a drug efficiently."
The researchers have published two related papers, NanoLett. 2011, 11 (3), 1358–1363; Small 2011, 7, No. 3, 388–394 and another submitted for publication. Four more papers are also planned for later this year. The researchers' long-term aim is to develop a complete nanotechnology toolkit to manipulate angiogenesis.