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Posted: September 27, 2007
Gold nanorods image tumors
(Nanowerk News) A growing body of research has demonstrated that gold nanorods can serve as extremely bright imaging agents. Now, by linking gold nanorods to an antibody that binds to tumor cells, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have found that gold nanorods will align themselves in an ordered fashion on the surface of cancer cells, further intensifying the optical signal the nanorods produce and providing a unique optical signature for tumor cells.
The investigators suspect that this difference results from the gold nanoparticles becoming aligned with one another when bound to the tumor cell surface through their linked antibody; previous research has shown that EGFR molecules occur in clusters on the surfaces of many types of tumor cells. When aligned with one another, adjacent nanorods interact electronically in such as way as to boost their combined optical output. The investigators note that this output boost can serve as a molecular signature unique to tumor cells.
In another paper, published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C ("Gold Nanorods Coated with Multilayer Polyelectrolyte as Contrast Agents for Multimodal Imaging"), a team of investigators led by Paras Prasad, Ph.D., principal investigator of the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Nanotechnology Platform Partnership at the State University of New York at Buffalo, has shown that gold nanorods linked to a protein known as transferrin also target cancer cells and enable them to be detected using optimal imaging. In this case, the nanorods were taken into tumor cells bearing the transferrin receptor, where they accumulate in sufficient numbers to shine brightly when irradiated by light. Healthy cells, which have but a few transferrin receptors on their surfaces, did not accumulate the targeted nanorods.