(Nanowerk News) One of the promises of nanoparticles as delivery agents for cancer therapeutics is that they will attack tumors while sparing healthy tissue from the damage normally associated with today's anticancer therapies. That promise is closer to realization thanks to the results of a study in which tumor-bearing mice were treated with a single dose of radioactive gold nanoparticles.
For this study, Dr. Katti's research group prepared their gold nanoparticles using the radioactive isotope gold-198. They then coated the resulting nanoparticles with gum Arabic glycoprotein to create biocompatible nanoparticles capable of escaping the blood stream and accumulating in tumors. Studies in mice showed that these nanoparticles, when injected into the blood stream, only accumulate in implanted human prostate tumors, with minimal or no leakage of radioactivity into other organs.
Tumor-bearing animals injected with a single dose of the nanoparticles were followed for three weeks. At the end of that time, tumor volume in the treated animals was 82% smaller compared to tumors in animals that received non-radioactive nanoparticles coated with gum Arabic glycoprotein. In addition, the treated animals did not lose weight during the three-week period, while the untreated animals experienced significant weight loss. The researchers also examined various blood cells for signs of radiation damage and found none, an encouraging sign that these nanoparticles are only toxic to tumors.