9 June 2014
A new nanoparticle - spherical in shape and silver in composition - could help target tumour cells, according to research from University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).
In addition, the shell is coated with a peptide that allows it to actively aim for cancerous cells. The outer casing is etchable, which means if they don’t hit their target they can be broken down and destroyed.
These particular nanoparticles are plasmonic, which means they use silver to produce light and concentrate the electromagnetic field near the surface. Due to this, fluorescent dyes are enhanced, causing them to appear ten times brighter than they would without the nanoparticle.
Researchers from UCSB developed a simple etching technique using biocompatible chemicals that could remove the nanoparticles outside living cells. This means it will be easier to identify which cells have been targeted.
Gary Braun, co-author of the study, commented: "The disassembly is an interesting concept for creating drugs that respond to a certain stimulus.
"It also minimises the off-target toxicity by breaking down the excess nanoparticles so they can then be cleared through the kidneys."
This nanoparticle could carry drugs that struggle to pass through a cell’s membrane on their own, such as RNA and DNA genetic medicines, which would make the treatments more effective.
Posted by Jeanette Royston
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