Cancer cells rely on their cytoskeletons to move away from where they are born, resulting in metastasis of the cancer. This process has been a challenge to prevent, but doing so can go a long way toward successfully killing cancers before they’re allowed to spread.
Researchers at Georgia Tech are now reporting in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on an approach they’ve developed that inhibits the functionality of cytoskeletons and, at least in a laboratory study, prevents cancer cells from migrating away from their original tumor.
Cytoskeletons can create octopus-like tentacles that extend from the cell’s body and which produce cell motion allowing cancer cells to move around. The Georgia Tech team was able to design Arg–Gly–Asp (RGD) peptide-functionalized gold nanorods that they managed to target to attach to integrin, a protein involved in the development of cytoskeletons. Once the nanorods were connected to the proteins, the team then used a low energy near infrared laser to heat up the nanorods, damaging the integrins. Because the effect is extremely localized, nearby cells were not affected, yet the ability to move around was seriously hindered by the technique.
So far this was only tried on cancer cells outside the body and in a very controlled environment. Translating this technique into a clinical application will require more challenges to overcome, yet the current research is pointing to an exciting potential for controlling cancer.
Top image: From left to right: Untreated lab culture cancer cell, lab culture cancer cell with gold nanorods attached, lab culture cancer cell after addition of gentle NIR laser light. Credit: Georgia Tech / El-Sayed group
Study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Targeting cancer cell integrins using gold nanorods in photothermal therapy inhibits migration through affecting cytoskeletal proteins…
Via: Georgia Tech…