Nano Development Seeks New Kind of Cancer Fight - Innovate Arkansas
Nano Development Seeks New Kind of Cancer Fight
By UALR's get informed, 11/13/2008 4:34:04 PM
A team of scientists led by Dr. Alexandru Biris at the Nanotechnology Center at UALR in collaboration with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is developing a method for attacking cancer cells by killing them from within.
The team's studies, presented in the latest issue of Nanotechnology and the subject of a front-page article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, shows the new method successfully killed more than 98 percent of the cervical cancer cells used in the study.
The procedure involves injecting cancer cells with tiny magnetic particles that are then heated with low radiofrequency radiation, killing the cells from within.
The technique is described in their new research paper, "Cobalt Nanoparticles Coated with Graphitic Shells as Localized Radio Frequency Absorbers for Cancer Therapy."
The technique introduces nano-sized cobalt particles encased in graphitic carbon layers inside the cells and thermally activates them by using radio frequency radiation. By applying low radio frequency radiation - used in some electronic or electromagnetic devices - the magnetic portion in the nanoparticles heats up the cancerous cells, destroying them.
The procedure promises a non-invasive method of eradicating cancer cells while reducing the life-threatening side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
"We have demonstrated that using a combination of a low frequency, low power radio frequency radiation - which has a high penetration ability in human tissue - with graphitic-magnetic composite nanoparticles could prove an excellent means of raising the temperature at the cellular level above the threshold required for DNA fragmentation or protein denaturation," Biris said. "The result is death of the cells. This technique is less invasive and possesses higher efficiency for targeting localized cells. It also has the potential to reduce the side effects associated with traditional cancer therapies."
Researchers from UAMS are ready to begin testing the procedure in approved protocols on animal models. During the experiments such nanomaterials will be delivered through the bloodstream and will be activated with radio frequency energy once in the tumors.
"This technology is extremely promising for killing cancer cells in vivo - at animal testing and clinical trials. The new approach improves on the research we have conducted at UAMS and which involves the nanostructural materials for killing tumors with lasers," said Dr. Vladimir Zharov, professor and director of the Phillips Classic Laser Laboratories at UAMS. "As a first stage we are planning to use passive mechanism of accumulation of these novel nanoparticles with protective coatings into tumors by using enhanced blood microcirculation networks. It will be important also to estimate and compare efficiency of laser and radiothermal ablation (removal by vaporization) of cancer or combine them if necessary. The ultimate goal is to achieve a safe, effective procedure that leaves a patient cancer-free."
Biris, chief scientist of the UALR Nanotechnology Center and a native of Romania who earned a Ph.D. in applied science at UALR in 2004, said the delivery of the encased nanoparticle to tumors will also be explored by binding them to cancer-specific antibodies.
By using antibodies or other nanoparticle bioconjugations - the coupling of two substances - the nanoparticles are expected to find the cancer cells even in advanced cases, including places that before now have been considered inoperable. The nanoparticles can also find undiagnosed micrometastasis, or the spread of cancer cells from the primary site with the secondary tumors too small to be detected clinically.
"This research has extended the understanding of the mechanisms that are responsible for effective nanoparticle targeting and eventually the death of cancer cells," Zharov said. "The new technology will soon be optimized based on extensive animal studies at UAMS."
The team's work is helping to explain the mechanism that is responsible for the death of the cells by figuring out the localized thermal damages such as protein denaturation and DNA fragmentation associated with the process. The finding can be applied to bacteria, viruses, or other biological systems.
Members of the research team working with Biris are:
- Yang Xu, Meena Mahmood, Zhongrui Li, and Enkeleda Dervishi, Nawab Ail, and Viney Saini, all of all of the Nanotechnology Center and Department of Applied Science at UALR
- Vladimir P. Zharov' group: Ekaterina Galanzha and Evgeny Shashkov, the Philips Classic Laser Laboratories at UAMS
- Steve Trigwell of ASRC Aerospace, NASA's Electrostatic and Surface Physics Laboratory at Kennedy Space Center in Florida
- Alexandru R. Biris and Dan Lupu of the National Institute for Research and Development of Isotopic and Molecular Technologies, Cluj Napoca, Romania.
- Dorin Boldor of Louisiana State University's AgCenter, Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department in Baton Rouge, La.
(This article was originally published in UALR's Nov. 5 get informed e-newsletter.)
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