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Rice UniversityCBEN
Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology

NIR Therapeutics

NIR light ablated PC3 prostate tumor cells

NIR light ablated PC3 prostate tumor cells only with nanoshell treatment.

For more than 50 years, cancer has remained the second leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 25% of the deaths in the population. More than 1 million cases are diagnosed each year, resulting in more than 500,000 deaths. Nanotechnology may offer new options for both diagno¬sis and treatment of cancer. A class of nanoparticles developed at Rice University, gold nanoshells, is under investigation for use in cancer therapy in the group’s laboratories. These nanoparticles possess highly tun¬able optical properties, such that particles can be designed to strongly absorb or scatter light at wavelengths across the visible and most of the infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. For biomedical appli-cations, such as cancer therapy, nanoshells can be designed to strongly absorb in the NIR, where attenuation of light in tissue is at its minimum (Welch 1995). This offers the possibility of delivering localized heating deep within tissue, with the aim of destroying diseased tissue. Nanoparticles can accumulate in tumors because of their leaky vasculature, and active targeting can also be accomplished via bioconjugation to appropriate antibodies, growth factors, aptamers, or peptides. Very high efficacy, greater than 90% of treated animals experiencing complete tumor regression without regrowth, has been demonstrated with minimal side effects or damage to normal tissues (O’Neal 2004). This base technology has been licensed to Nanospectra Biosciences, Inc., and commercialization efforts are proceeding. This technology is currently in Phase 1 clinical trials with funding from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund and private investors. The integra¬tion of diagnostic imaging and therapy has also been achieved with this nanotechnology platform, and efforts to this end are highly integrated with Project One of the papers from this project on integrated imaging and therapy is listed by Scopus in the top 10 most cited articles in materials science over the past 5 years (Loo 2005).  Further, alternative nanoparticles, such as gold-gold sulfide nanoshells and gold nanorods, which provide higher optical absorption and thus are ther¬apeutically effective at lower doses, are also being investigated. This work was featured in the June 2006 issue of National Geographic and in the April 2007 Scientific American.

Participating Researchers: