While we’ve covered a number of cancer treatments which utilize gold nanoparticles, previous methods typically required the use of infrared or near-infrared light to burn the tumors. Now, a team of researchers at Syracuse University has developed a treatment which uses gold nanoparticles as a drug carrier, eliminating the need to burn away any cancerous tissue. The researchers accomplished this by using DNA to attach chemotherapy agent doxorubicin (DOX) to the nanoparticles, which then accumulate at the tumor site due to their high affinity for cancerous tissue.
From the announcement:
A key element of the new system is that the DNA attached to the gold particles is engineered specifically to bind to the DOX anti-tumor drug. Studies show that the DOX can be transferred by diffusion to a receptor DNA molecule.
The gold nanoparticles have an average diameter of only 15.5 nanometers or a few billionths of a meter. A single nanoparticle presents more than 100 DOX sites, and that, when multiplied by millions of the particles, could create a massive and deadly assault on a tumor.
A key advantage of the new system is that the DOX anti-tumor drug is already accepted by the FDA. Other such drugs may be deployed using this system simply by engineering the DNA to bind to a different drug molecule.