Pave Way for Nanobubbles!Fri, 13 Apr 2012
In tests on drug-resistant cancer cells, researchers have found that delivering chemotherapy drugs and and genetic payloads with “plasmonic nanobubbles”
injected directly into cancer cells was up to 30 times more deadly to
cancer cells than traditional drug treatment and required less than
one-tenth the clinical dose.
“We are delivering cancer drugs or other genetic cargo at the single-cell level,” said Rice’s Dmitri Lapotko, a biologist and physicist whose plasmonic nanobubble technique is the subject of four new peer-reviewed studies.
avoiding healthy cells and delivering the drugs directly inside cancer
cells, we can simultaneously increase drug efficacy while lowering the
dosage,” he said.
How nanobubbles deliver drugs to cancer cells
researchers at Rice University, the University of Texas MD Anderson
Cancer Center, and Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) are using “plasmonic
nanobubbles.” These are tiny pockets of air and water vapor that are
created when laser light strikes a plasmon (a wave of electrons that
sloshes back and forth across the surface of a gold nanoparticle, in
this case) and is converted instantly into heat.
injecting drugs, plasmonic nanobubbles are generated from laser light
(blue) and burst inside cancer cells, opening up holes for drugs to rush
inside (credit: Rice University)
The bubbles form just
below the surface of cancer cells. As the bubbles expand and burst, they
briefly open small holes in the surface of the cells and allow cancer
drugs to rush inside.
To get the gold nanoclusters inside the
cancer cells, the scientists tag individual gold nanoparticles with an
antibody that binds to the surface of the cancer cell. Cells ingest the
gold nanoparticles and sequester them together in tiny pockets just
below their surfaces.
While a few gold nanoparticles are taken up
by healthy cells, the cancer cells take up far more, and the selectivity
of the procedure owes to the fact that the minimum threshold of laser
energy needed to form a nanobubble in a cancer cell is too low to form a
nanobubble in a healthy cell.
The same technique can be used to
deliver gene therapies and other therapeutic payloads directly into
cells, using selective genetic modification of human T-cells, for
This method, which has yet to be tested in animals, will
require more research before it might be ready for human testing, said
Lapotko, faculty fellow in biochemistry and cell biology and in physics
and astronomy at Rice.