Golden Opportunity

Gold nanoparticles enhance anti-cancer drug, make chemotherapy more effective

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Gold nanoparticles loosely attached to an anti-cancer drug begin accumulating deep inside tumors minutes after injection and can be activated for effective treatment within two hours, according to new research.

Without the nanoparticles, the drug takes two days to gather while attacking the tumor on its surface, a less effective approach than attacking the the inside of the tumor.

Lead author Clemens Burda, a professor of chemistry at Case Western Reserve, said researchers hope to lower chemotherapy dosage requirements by at least 10 with the nanoparticle approach.

For the study, the scientists tied an anti-cancer drug to golden "missiles" via a chemical reaction known as a noncovalent bond. (In molecular structures, a noncovalent bond is similar to a shoestring tied in a bow, whereas a covalent bond is akin to a heavy rope, lashed and knotted.)

The gold nanoparticles's surface areas allow for lots to be packed into a small space as a coat of polyethylene glycol bonds to the gold, providing space to attach other materials.

After delivery of the drug, the nanoparticles are passed through the kidneys and are eliminated within one week.

The nanoparticle approach speeds therapy by directly targeting inside tumors, allowing patients to receive lower doses of the toxic chemotherapy chemicals and save healthy tissue from damage suffered via traditional chemotherapy.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University report the finding in a new report titled "Deep Penetration of a PDT Drug into Tumors by Noncovalent Drug-Gold Nanoparticle Conjugates."

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Review Date: 
February 7, 2011
Last Updated:
February 7, 2011