A research team from University of Leeds has figured out a way to kill cancer cells photothermally. They used Near-Infrared (NIR) to heat up gold nanotubes, and, a single-wavelength pulsed laser beam to rapidly increase the temperature near the nanotubes. This focussed, high-intensity heating kills the cancer cells.

A big advantage of the method is that NIR light has maximum penetration in the tissue without much harmful consequences. To minimize toxicity further, the gold nanotubes were coated with PSS - poly(sodium 4-styrenesulfonate).
The team is led by Steve Evans of the School of Physics and Astronomy.

  1. Destroy some types of cancer cells.
  2. Imaging of tumours by adjusting the brightness of the laser pulse
  3. Targeted drug delivery to cancer cells, since the core of the nanotubes is hollow.

Expert Speak:
  • Younan Xia, of Georgia Tech, says, "Although other types of gold structures including nanocages, nanorods and nanoshells have been used to destroy tumours before now, the new aspect in this work is the potential improvement in terms of tumour targeting efficacy by altering the shape or morphology of the nanostructures."
  • James Mclaughlin, from the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, says, "Combining targeting and localized release of therapeutic agents in this way could be used to identify and treat cancer with minimal toxicity to the patient."

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