Laser Activated Nanoparticles Effectively Destroy Cancer Cells


Scientists in Denmark have developed a way to destroy cancer cells with nanoparticles and lasers. Cancer tumors were significantly damaged when this treatment method was tested on mice.

Unlike traditional cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy that harm not just cancer tumors, but healthy body tissues as well, this new treatment just affects cancer cells locally. The project is named Laser Activated Nanoparticles for Tumor Elimination, (LANTERN).

“The treatment involves injecting tiny nanoparticles directly into the cancer. Then you heat up the nanoparticles from outside using lasers. It is a strong interaction between the nanoparticles and the laser light, which causes the particles to heat up. What then happens is that the heated particles damage or kill the cancer cells,” said project head Professor Lene Oddershede, of the Niels Bohr Institute.

Some of the research experiments were designed to determine what type of nanoparticle works best for diminishing tumors. These tiny particles run between 80 and 150 nanometers in diameter (one nanometer equals a millionth of a millimeter), and they are either solid gold, or glass overlaid with gold. Treatment effectiveness depends on finding the right balance between particle size, structure, materials, and the laser light’s wavelength.

Testing revealed that 150 nanometer gold-covered glass particles provide the best result. They were heated with near-infrared laser light since this wavelength penetrates tissue well but does not burn the tissues it passes through. PET scans showed that cancer cells had been destroyed just one hour after the nanoparticle and laser treatment, and the effect continued for at least another 48 hours.

“In the longer term, we would like the method to work by injecting the nanoparticles into the blood stream, where they end up in the tumors that may have metastasized,” says Oddershede. “With the PET scans we can see where the tumors are and irradiate them with lasers...we will [also] coat the particles with chemotherapy, which is released by the heat and which will help kill the cancer cells.”

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: Kevin Doncaster


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