An international team of researchers from UK, France, and United States has developed hybrid gold-silica nanoparticles that are visible under three types of imaging modalities while being able to deliver chemo and photothermal therapy. The nanoparticles consist of a shell made out of mesoporous silica that has gold quantum dots seeded throughout. They can be tracked throughout the body using MRI, near-infrared fluorescence, and photoacoustic imaging while carrying a therapeutic payload.
Gold quantum dots have previously looked promising for clinical applications, but when released on their own they tend to bunch together and cause problems. Having these quantum dots attached to a larger particle maintains their functionality without letting them wonder off on their own. This allows the new nanoparticles to enter cells without being toxic to them, that is until the particles’ location is confirmed and the therapeutic payload is released.
The researchers that developed these nanoparticles believe that compared to liposomal drug carriers, the new nanoparticles would have a drastically greater ability to reach their intended targets. In addition to bringing chemical compounds along, the nanoparticles can be made to heat up using an external laser, killing nearby tumor cells.
Additionally, the same heating mechanism can be used for imaging since temperature changes push the gold quantum dots apart which create ultrasound waves in the process. Moreover, gold nanoparticles smaller than 2 nanometers are magnetic and can be seen under MRI.
Study in Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences: Gold–silica quantum rattles for multimodal imaging and therapy…