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

small that they fit through the larger pores of abnormal blood vessels that nourish cancer, Li said. This "passive targeting" delivers a low dose of nanoparticles and concentrates them near the cell's vasculature.

The researchers packaged hollow, spherical gold nanospheres with a peptide - a small compound composed of amino acids - that binds to the melanocortin type 1 receptor, which is overly abundant in melanoma cells. They first treated melanoma cells in culture and later injected both targeted and untargeted nanospheres into mice with melanoma, then applied near-infrared light.

Fluorescent tagging of the targeted nanospheres showed that they were embedded in cultured melanoma cells, while hollow gold nanospheres without the targeting peptide were not. The targeted nanospheres were actively drawn into the cells through the cell membrane.

When the researchers beamed near-infrared light onto treated cultures, most cells with targeted nanospheres died, and almost all of those left were irreparably damaged. Only a small fraction of cells treated with untargeted nanospheres died. Cells treated only with near-infrared light or only with the nanospheres were undamaged.

An 8-fold increase in tumor destruction

In the mouse model, fluorescent tagging showed that the plain hollow gold nanospheres only accumulated near the tumor's blood vessels, while the targeted nanospheres were found throughout the tumor.

"There are many biological barriers to effective use of nanoparticles, with the liver and spleen being the most important," Li said. The body directs foreign particles and defective cells to those organs for destruction.

Most of the targeted nanospheres in the treated mice gathered in the tumor, with smaller amounts found in the liver and spleen. Most of the untargeted nanospheres gathered in the spleen, then in the liver and then the tumor, demonstrating the selectivity and importance of targeting
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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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