Nano Geneeskunde...Nano Medicína
Gold Nanoparticles May Simplify Cancer
Gold nanoparticles stick to cancer cells and make them shine
(May 9, 2005) — Binding gold nanoparticles to a specific
antibody for cancer cells could make cancer detection
much easier, suggests research at the Georgia Institute
of Technology and the University of California at
San Francisco (UCSF). The report is published online
as an ASAP article in the journal Nano Letters.
“Gold nanoparticles are very good at scattering
and absorbing light,” said Mostafa El-Sayed, director
of the Laser Dyanamics Laboratory and chemistry professor
at Georgia Tech. “We wanted to see if we could harness
that scattering property in a living cell to make
cancer detection easier. So far, the results are
Many cancer cells have a protein, known as Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor
(EFGR), all over their surface, while healthy cells typically do not express
the protein as strongly. By conjugating, or binding, the gold nanoparticles
to an antibody for EFGR, suitably named anti-EFGR, researchers were able to
get the nanoparticles to attach themselves to the cancer cells.
“If you add this conjugated nanoparticle solution to healthy cells and cancerous
cells and you look at the image, you can tell with a simple microscope that the
whole cancer cell is shining,” said El-Sayed. “The healthy cell doesn't bind
to the nanoparticles specifically, so you don't see where the cells are. With
this technique, if you see a well defined cell glowing, that's cancer.”
Gold nanoparticles don't stick as well to noncancerous
cells. The results can be seen with a simple microscope.
the study, researchers found that the gold nanoparticles
have 600 percent greater affinity for cancer
cells than for noncancerous cells. The particles
that worked the best were 35 nanometers in size.
Researchers tested their technique using cell cultures
of two different types of oral cancer and one nonmalignant
cell line. The shape of the strong absorption spectrum
of the gold nanoparticles are also found to distinguish
between cancer cells and noncancerous cells.
What makes this technique so promising, said El-Sayed, is that it doesn't require
expensive high-powered microscopes or lasers to view the results, as other
techniques require. All it takes is a simple, inexpensive microscope and white
Another benefit is that the results are instantaneous. “If you take cells from
a cancer stricken tissue and spray them with these gold nanoparticles that
have this antibody you can see the results immediately. The scattering is so
strong that you can detect a single particle,” said El-Sayed.
Finally, the technique isn't toxic to human cells. A similar technique using
artificial atoms known as Quantum Dots uses semiconductor crystals to mark
cancer cells, but the semiconductor material is potentially toxic to the cells
“This technique is very simple and inexpensive to use,” said El-Sayed. “We think
it holds great promise in making cancer detection easier, faster and less expensive.”
The research team consisted of El-Sayed, along with his son Ivan El-Sayed,
head and neck surgeon at the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center and Tech graduate
student Xiaohua Huang.
The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of
the nation's premiere research universities. Ranked
among U.S. News & World Report 's top 10 public
universities, Georgia Tech educates more than 16,000
students every year through its Colleges of Architecture,
Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management
and Sciences. Tech maintains a diverse campus and
is among the nation's top producers of women and
African-American engineers. The Institute offers
research opportunities to both undergraduate and
graduate students and is home to more than 100
interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research
Institute. During the 2003-2004 academic year,
Georgia Tech reached $341.9 million in new research
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