‘Smart’ particle could target tumours

smart particle tumor

A newly-discovered ‘smart’ particle could help doctors target tumours more effectively, according to Canadian research.

A team based at the University of Toronto has discovered an organic and biodegradable nanoparticle that uses heat and light to target and remove tumours with greater precision.

New treatment for cancer

The proof-of-concept findings show how ‘photo-thermal therapy’ can be used more effectively to treat cancer, says Dr. Gang Zheng, who led the team.

In lab conditions, they showed how the nanoparticle can help potentially clear two bottlenecks currently preventing more effective use of photo-thermal therapy with patients.

The problems faced are, firstly, tissue can overheat causing collateral damage during treatment.

Secondly is the inability of photo-thermal to tackle larger tumour volumes, as the light stops travelling when it is absorbed.

Super cool particles

Dr. Zheng says one of the main benefits of the smart nanoparticle is its cool temperature. The particle acts as a thermal sensor. This means once it reaches the desired temperature of 55C, it becomes invisible.

This allows the light to move deeper into more areas of tumour and repeat the treatment process.

The results of the research have been described by Dr Zheng as “promising”, as it could offer a new way to heat and remove larger volumes of tumour with minimal damage to surrounding tissues.

The next step is to conduct pre-clinical studies to test the concept further.

For the past decade, Dr. Zheng's research has focused on advancing nanoparticle technology by harnessing light, heat and sound to advance tumour imaging and targeted treatment.

The findings were published in chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie.

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