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Lasers and bombs in the same cancer-killing package!

"Photothermal Effects of Supramolecularly Assembled Gold Nanoparticles for the Targeted Treatment of Cancer Cells" is quite the mouthful. The recently published paper details work by University of California at Los Angeles on another nanoparticle bomb approach to destroying cancer cells.

DailyTech is ripe with examples of similar studies and projects using gold and other forms of nano and microparticles in combination with various electromagnetic radiations and cancer-fighting drugs and even viral drug delivery systems. Mose of these nanoparticle treatments use relatively simple soldiers, carbon nanotubes and the like, which makes the UCLA methods a little more unique.

Doctor Hsien-Rong Tseng's team instead uses self-assembling macromolecular particles. These particles react extremely quickly when irradiated with a light source, heating to in excess of 370 degrees Celcius. At 374 degrees, the heat causes explosive bubbles to form and these bubbles in turn burst and destroy cells in the area. This is the same approach used in a recent Rice University study, but builds further upon the premise.

The magic self-assembly involves two-nanometer gold particles, cyclodextrin, adamantane, polyethyleneimine, and polyethylene glycol. The gold particles are first littered with adamantane. Cyclodextrin and more adamantane are then combined with the biocompatible polymers, polyethyleneimine and polyethylene glycol respectively. The two molecules self-assemble into complex structures with the doctored gold particles and a new, supramolecular bomb is born.

During the study, the structures attached themselves to tumor cells via specialized tumor-targeting molecules. The researchers then excited them with laser beams. They quickly obliterated any nearby cancer cells. They further tested the structures on cells lacking the receptor to which the targeting molecules adhere. These tests showed that cancer-less cells remained relatively unharmed. Tests with gold nanoparticles lacking the superstructure clearly showed that the engineered molecules were far superior at their seek and destroy missions.

An abstract of the previously mentioned paper can be found here. More information on the study should be forthcoming on the National Cancer Institute's website.





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