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Targeted nanospheres find, penetrate, then fuel burning of melanoma
Date:2/1/2009

HOUSTON - Hollow gold nanospheres equipped with a targeting peptide find melanoma cells, penetrate them deeply, and then cook the tumor when bathed with near-infrared light, a research team led by scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center reported in the Feb. 1 issue of Clinical Cancer Research.

"Active targeting of nanoparticles to tumors is the holy grail of therapeutic nanotechnology for cancer. We're getting closer to that goal," said senior author Chun Li, Ph.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Experimental Diagnostic Imaging. When heated with lasers, the actively targeted hollow gold nanospheres did eight times more damage to melanoma tumors in mice than did the same nanospheres that gathered less directly in the tumors.

Lab and mouse model experiments demonstrated the first in vivo active targeting of gold nanostructures to tumors in conjunction with photothermal ablation - a minimally invasive treatment that uses heat generated through absorption of light to destroy target tissue. Tumors are burned with near-infrared light, which penetrates deeper into tissue than visible or ultraviolet light.

Photothermal ablation is used to treat some cancers by embedding optical fibers inside tumors to deliver near-infrared light. Its efficiency can be greatly improved when a light-absorbing material is applied to the tumor, Li said. Photothermal ablation has been explored for melanoma, but because it also hits healthy tissue, dose duration and volume have been limited.

Lower light dose, great damage

With hollow gold nanospheres inside melanoma cells, photothermal ablation destroyed tumors in mice with a laser light dose that was 12 percent of the dose required when the nanospheres aren't applied, Li and colleagues report. Such a low dose is more likely to spare surrounding tissue.

Injected, untargeted nanoparticles accumulate in tumors because they are so
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Contact: Scott Merville
smerville@mdanderson.org
713-792-0661
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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