The researchers took ultrasound images of the animals' livers every five minutes for 90 minutes after the injection. The nanoparticles had accumulated in the animals' livers. Another future step for this work is to label nanoparticles with a molecular road map of sorts, which would direct the particles to go to specific locations in the body.
"The liver takes up foreign substances in the body, so it's not surprising that that's where we saw the particles," Rosol said. "But we ultimately want to be able to make these particles to go to the mammary glands or other tissues we're interested in."
The ultrasound images grew brighter over the 90-minute period. The researchers compared these images to those from a group of control mice injected with a saline solution. There was no change in ultrasound image brightness in the control mice after that injection.
While this research is still in its infancy, Rosol and his colleagues foresee a day when nanotechnology can alert a physician to the beginnings of cancer or heart disease, perhaps in a woman who has a family history of breast cancer:
"Her doctor could inject the breast with nanoparticles and the resulting ultrasound image would alert the doctor to any suspicious areas in the tissue, even at the cellular level," Rosol said.
The hope is that combining ultrasound and nanotechnology may provide a definitive diagnosis in lieu of an invasive procedure like a biopsy.
"These nanoparticles may make it possible for physicians to screen for tumors very quickly, and perhaps lessen the need for a biopsy in many cases," Liu said.
Nanoparticles are smaller than any cell in the human body, so they may pass through the walls of the leaky blood vessels, or capillaries, of tumor tissue and actually infiltrate the tumor.
"Until now, nobody knew what these particles would do in the blood," Rosol said. "But
Source:Ohio State University