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Toxicity and Efficacy of Gold Nanoparticle Photothermal Therapy in Cancer
Emory University

Principal Investigators: Dong Shin, M.D., and Mostafa El-Sayed, Ph.D.

Project Summary

Plasmonic photothermal therapy (PPTT) is a therapeutic strategy in which photon energy is converted into heat to damage and destroy cancer cells. It has had some success in treating cancer in the past few decades and offers important advantages over conventional therapies. This strategy has, however, several limitations in clinical settings. A general concern is its potential toxicity on the human body. To overcome this challenge, Drs. Shin and El-Sayed are developing a new generation of optimized gold nanorod-assisted photothermal therapy (Au NR PTT). There is an advantage to incorporating gold nanorods into the PPTT since they exhibit higher intrinsic absorption efficiencies leading to faster and higher heating effects compared to the prototypical gold nanoshells or nanocages. Successful development of gold nanorod assisted photothermal therapy is an important treatment modality for locally advanced or recurrent head and neck cancer in patients who failed standard approaches including surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy. Patients with tumors that are locally invasive, unresectable and refractory to chemotherapy and radiation therapy have very limited options and will eventually die from the disease. This Au NR PTT has a great therapeutic potential to target locally advanced disease which has become resistant to conventional and standard treatments.

Project Goal

The goal of this project is to enhance the limited knowledge about a new generation of optimized gold nanorod-assisted photothermal therapy (Au NR PTT) for the evaluation of toxicity using animal models and xenografted tumor ablation with low doses of near-infrared light.