In the lab, the team tracked the fluorescent particles and confirmed that they targeted cancer cells and destroyed them with heat. Joshi said the next step will be to destroy whole tumors in live animals. He estimates that testing in humans is at least two years away, but the ultimate goal is a system where a patient gets a shot containing nanoparticles with antibodies that are tailored for the patient's cancer. Using NIR imaging, MRI or a combination of the two, doctors would observe the particles' progress through the body, identify areas where tumors exist and then kill them with heat.
"This particle provides four options -- two for imaging and two for therapy," Joshi said. "We envision this as a platform technology that will present practitioners with a choice of options for directed treatment."
Eventually, Joshi said, he hopes to develop specific versions of the particles that can attack cancer at different stages, particularly early stage cancer, which is difficult to diagnose and treat with current technology. The researchers also expect to use different antibody labels to target specific forms of the disease. Halas said the team has been careful to choose components that are either already approved for medical use or are already in clinical trials.
"What's nice is that every single component of this has been approved or is on a path toward FDA approval," Halas said. "We're putting together components that all have good, proven track records."
|Contact: Jade Boyd|