Interactions of composite gold nanoparticles with cells and tissue : implications in clinical translation for cancer imaging and therapy




Tam, Justina Oichi

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Current methods to diagnose and treat cancer often involve expensive, time-consuming equipment and materials that may lead to unwanted side effects and may not even increase a patient’s chance of survival. Thus, for a while now, a large part of the research community has focused on developing improved methods to detect, diagnose, and treat cancer on the molecular scale. One of the most recently discovered methods of cancer therapy is targeted therapy. These targeted therapies have potential to provide a patient with a form of personalized medicine because these therapies are biological molecules that specifically target other molecules involved with a cancer’s growth. Past trials using these therapeutic molecules, however, have led to controversial results, where certain patients responded better than others to the therapy for unknown reasons. Elucidating the reason behind these mixed results can be accomplished using metal nanoparticle technologies which could provide a bright signal to monitor the path that these therapeutic molecules take in vivo as well as enhance the molecule’s efficacy. Literature has shown that presenting targeting molecules in a dense manner to their target will increase these molecules’ binding affinity. This concept has been explored here to increase binding affinity of therapeutic molecules by attaching these molecules in a dense manner on the surface of gold nanoparticles, and correlating this increased affinity with therapeutic efficacy. Additionally, gold nanoparticles provide an easy surface for molecules to be functionalized on and have shown to be effective imaging, x-ray, and photothermal therapy agents. A major roadblock to using these gold nanoparticles clinically is their non-degradability and thus potential to cause long-term negative side effects in vivo. A platform for developing biodegradable gold nanoparticles is also explored here to take advantage of the gold nanoparticles’ excellent imaging and drug delivery capabilities while still allowing them to be used safely in the long term.



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