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Surface-Modified Silver Nanoparticles Could Enhance Therapeutic Applications

Image of lactose-modified silver nanoparticles in an A549 cancer cell. (Image by Mustafa Culha, Yeditepe University)

A ubiquitous component of antimicrobial coatings and wound-care dressings, silver has well-known antibacterial properties. But scientists are also beginning to study the noble metal for its potential therapeutic value.

Mustafa Culha, an associate professor and team leader of the Nanobiotechnology Group at Yeditepe University (Istanbul), is studying the surface chemistry of nanoparticles that governs their interactions with other constituents in their environment. "Chemically altering the surface properties of nanoparticles with polymers, biological ligands, and macromolecules is actively being explored," Culha explains. "With the surface modifications, improvement in targeting and enhancement in cellular uptake are also achieved."

As reported in Nanowerk, Culha and his team have demonstrated that the functionalization of noble metal nanoparticles with multiligands can aid cellular targeting, showing that lactose-modified silver nanoparticles can perhaps be used for selective targeting of eukaryotic cells--single-or multicellular organisms whose cells contain a distinct membrane-bound nucleus. They also demonstrated that the toxicity of silver nanoparticles can be reduced by chemical modification.

"This provides the opportunity to develop silver nanoparticle-based therapeutics for multipurposes and imaging tools," Culha remarks. "The silver nanoparticles are plasmonic structures, and they absorb and scatter a portion of the impinging light. While scattered light can be used for imaging, the absorbed light can be used for thermal killing of cancer cells after their selective uptake into the cancer cells."

The Turkish scientists' study suggests that modified silver nanoparticles may provide new tools for use in clinical cancer diagnosis as well as treatment and other therapeutic applications, such as selective targeting of cancer cells, photothermal therapy, and cellular and biomedical imaging.

More information is available at Nanowerk and in the paper "Interaction of Multi-Functional Silver Nanoparticles with Living Cells" by Culha and his colleagues.

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