Noble metals as vehicles for drug delivery and targeting in human cancers

Brittany A Book, Purdue University


The field of nanotechnology has grown drastically in the last decade with the invention of various sized and shaped particles, including but not limited to nanostars, nanorods, nanospheres, nanoprisms, nanocages, and nanoshells. However, the application of these particles as disease fighting agents has only recently been realized. Nanoparticles made from noble metals exhibit unique optical properties making them applicable as imaging and diagnostic as well as therapeutic agents. Nanoparticles exhibit plasmonic resonance, photoluminescence, and are capable of enhancing surrounding molecules due to resonance and electromagnetic field generation in surface enhancement raman spectroscopy (SERS). Nanoparticles are often chemically conjugatable. Biomolecules, proteins, and other chemical groups can be attached electrostatically or covalently. In this research, we take advantage of the unique optical and conjugation properties of nanoparticles for applications in personalized nanomedicine. Gold nanorods and silver nanospheres were studied. Silver nanospheres were reduced and capped with folic acid, a biomolecule in a novel chemical process which decreased their toxicity and provided a cancer cell targeting mechanism. Gold nanorods were conjugated with folic acid and doxorubicin, an innately fluorescent anti-cancer drug. The gold particles were visualized with two-photon confocal fluorescence microscopy and the progression, release, and drug targeting were visualized with this technique. Overall, this work provides significant enhancement of the mechanisms in which nanomaterials can be used as direct targeting agents in personalized medicine. This research provides a stepping stone for specific conjugation of targeting molecules and individualized drugs to nanoparticles for increased delivery efficiency and anti-tumorigenic effects.




Irudayaraj, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Biomedical engineering|Nanotechnology|Oncology

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