Nanoparticles, Lasers, and Cancer

Researchers have been killing cancer cells in the lab through a combination of targeted nanoparticles and laser heating for a couple of years now, but here is an interesting advance on that method: scientists "have discovered a new technique for singling out individual diseased cells and destroying them with tiny explosions. The scientists used lasers to make 'nanobubbles' by zapping gold nanoparticles inside cells. In tests on cancer cells, they found they could tune the lasers to create either small, bright bubbles that were visible but harmless or large bubbles that burst the cells. ... Single-cell targeting is one of the most touted advantages of nanomedicine, and our approach delivers on that promise with a localized effect inside an individual cell. The idea is to spot and treat unhealthy cells early, before a disease progresses to the point of making people extremely ill. ... In laboratory studies published last year [researchers also] applied nanobubbles to arterial plaque. They found that they could blast right through the deposits that block arteries. ...The bubbles work like a jackhammer. ... nanobubble technology could be used for 'theranostics,' a single process that combines diagnosis and therapy. In addition, because the cell-bursting nanobubbles also show up on microscopes in real time, [the] technique can be use for post-therapeutic assessment, or what physicians often refer to as 'guidance.'"

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-02/ru-rpk020410.php

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