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Non-toxic nanoparticles developed that find, image and destroy cancer

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Nanoparticle cancer treatment developed

Scientists have developed a novel nanoparticle treatment that finds, images and destroys cancer using phototherapy to seek out and destroy cancer tumors. The cancer treatment, according to scientists, is "one of a kind" and is completely safe and biodegradable. The nanoparticle is a tiny molecule uses light, heat and sound to find tumors in the body, image them and ablate tumors.

Therapy could change cancer treatment

Dr. Gang Zheng, Senior Scientist, Ontario Cancer Institute (OCI), Princess Margaret Hospital at University Health Network. says, "There are many nanoparticles out there, but this one is the complete package, a kind of one-stop shopping for various types of cancer imaging and treatment options that can now be mixed and matched in ways previously unimaginable. The unprecedented safety of this nanoparticle in the body is the icing on the cake. We are excited by the possibilities for its use in the clinic."

Dr. Zheng explains the nanoparticle developed is like a "small balloon" that can be filled with anti-cancer drugs. The small particle is made from chlorophyll and lipids that are naturally occurring and biodegradable, making them non-toxic to the body.

How nanoparticle treatment destroys cancer tumors

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First author Jonathan Lovell, a doctoral student at OCI explains photothermal therapy uses light and heat to destroy cancer tumors. The nanoparticle has the ability to absorb light and accumulate in tumors. A laser quickly heats the tumor to a temperature of 60 degrees and then destroys it.

The nanoparticle is also capable of using light and sound to produce a high resolution image to find and ablate cancer tumors. He says when the nanoparticle targets the tumor it becomes fluorescent, signalling the tumor has been eradicated.

Dr. Zheng says the cancer treatment is "one of a kind" because of the ability to image as well as treat cancer. He adds the safety of cancer treatment from the non toxic nanoparticle development presents opportunities for treating cancer in several ways. The findings are published in the journal Nature Materials.

Nature Materials (DOI: 10.1038/NMAT2986)
"Porphysome nanovesicles generated by porphyrin bilayers for use as multimodal biophotonic contrast agents"
Jonathan F. Lovell, Cheng S. Jin, Elizabeth Huynh, Honglin Jin, Chulhong Kim, John L. Rubinstein, Warren C. W. Chan, Weiguo Cao, Lihong V. Wang & Gang Zheng