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Double action cancer therapy
16 March 2010
Scientists in Taiwan have demonstrated a more effective approach to treat cancer using multifunctional nanoparticle. The particles simultaneously attack tumours with chemotherapy and photothermal therapy as well as allowing their position and size to be ascertained.
While metal nanoparticles have been shown to kill tumour cells when irradiated with light from a laser, the limited size of the laser beam spot can mean that some cancerous cells are missed. Combining chemotherapy with phototherapy could be a promising approach to overcome this disadvantage. Now, Chen-Sheng Yeh at the National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, and colleagues have made nanoparticles that deliver the anticancer drug Taxol and also contain gold for phototherapy.
The nanoparticles consist of Taxol (paclitaxel)-loaded poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) conjugated with iron oxide nanoparticles and quantum dots that allow optical and magnetic resonance imaging of the nanoparticles in vivo. The nanoparticles are coated with gold nanorods that absorb near infra red light and convert it to heat to enhance phototherapy and destroy the PLGA nanoparticles to release the encapsulated anticancer drug.
'The multifunctional polymeric nanoparticles simultaneously provide detection, diagnosis, and therapy in a single nanoparticle to enhance therapeutic treatment,' says Yeh. Mice treated with chemotherapy and photothermal destruction via the nanoparticles remained alive after two months and their tumours either decreased completely or showed no sign of regrowth after therapy, he adds. By only releasing the anticancer drug at the site of the tumour, the unpleasant chemotherapy side effects could also be reduced.
'By combining both of these cell killing techniques the nanoparticles are far more effective at killing cancer cells,' says Richard Tilley an expert in nanomaterials at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. 'The multifunctionality is a highly novel and unique approach that will deliver a smarter way to treat cancer,' he adds.
These nanoparticles could provide a comprehensive medical platform, adds Yeh and says he hopes that it could lead to 'invasive operations in patients being avoided in the future.'
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Link to journal article
Multifunctional polymeric nanoparticles for combined chemotherapeutic and near-infrared photothermal cancer therapy in vitro and in vivo
Fong-Yu Cheng, Chia-Hao Su, Ping-Ching Wu and Chen-Sheng Yeh, Chem. Commun., 2010, 46, 3167
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