Irudayaraj uses a magnet to attract magnetic particles. The nanoprobes with gold and magnetic particles could deliver drugs directly to cancer cells. (Photo courtesy of TOM CAMPBELL/PURDUE UNIVERSITY)
With the ability to find tumors in the body, nanoprobes armed with antibodies could evolve into a drug-delivery vehicle for cancer treatment. Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN) researcher Joseph Irudayaraj developed the probes. They are composed of gold nanorods and magnetic particles and, as a result, can be tracked via imaging devices during their journey to cancer cells.
Similar in appearance to a pearl necklace, the probes have potential medical applications in tumor detection and targeting cells with a built-in drug-delivery module. The researchers believe that combining multiple materials will provide unique possibilities in nanomedicine.
The 70 × 40-nm device can be optically and magnetically imaged. It consists of a 60 × 30-nm gold nanorod, which has 10–15-nm magnetic particles organized along the length of the nanorod. The probe's composition enables bimodal imaging.
A magnetic resonance imaging machine follows the magnetic particles, even through deep tissue, and microscopy is used to track the gold nanorods. The Herceptin-loaded probes would be injected into the body through a saline buffering fluid. They bind to a cancer cell, which expresses a protein marker that is complementary to Herceptin, according to Irudayaraj. He says the researchers are testing the drug-delivery and release aspects of the probes.
“We would like to attach drugs and study the release [of] kinetics,” says Irudayaraj, an associate professor of biological engineering. “Our goal is that once the release mechanism is explored, one could target and deliver drugs and time the release as well.”
So far the probes have been tested in cultured cancer cells. The next phase would involve testing the dose and stability of the probes in mice models.
The research was funded through a National Institutes of Health grant and the Purdue Research Foundation. A paper about the technology has been published in the international chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie.
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