Nanoparticles in Cancer Hyperthermia

The use of nanoparticles in cancer heat therapy, referred to as Nanoparticle Hyperthermia, involves applying heat to tumors to attack cancer cells. This type of treatment can destroy cancer tumors with with minimal damage to the human body.

This page provides a survey of the nanoparticle based methods being developed to improve cancer heat therapy.


A Survey of Methods using Nanoparticles to improve Cancer Hyperthermia

Using iron-oxide nanoparticles and a magnetic field to heat up cancer tumors has been shown to stimulate the immune system to fight cancer cells in other parts of the body. Researchers believe this methodology may be useful in preventing the spread of cancer cells, while other techniques are used to fight localized tumors.

Another technique being developed works on destroying cancer tumors by applying heat. Nanoparticles called AuroShells absorb infrared light from a laser, turning the light into heat. Researchers are reporting results from a clincal study using use of this technique  to destroy tumors in prostate cancer patients. The company developing this technique is called Nanospectra.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital are working on a method using infrared light to trigger the release of two anticancer drugs to tumors.

Another technique delivers chemotherapy drugs to cancer cells and also applies heat to the cell. Researchers are using gold nanorods to which DNA strands are attached. The DNA strands act as a scaffold, holding together the nanorod and the chemotherapy drug. When Infrared light illuminates the cancer tumor the gold nanorod absorbs the infrared light, turning it into heat. The heat both releases the chemotherapy drug and helps destroy the cancer cells.

Researchers are using a photosensitizing agent to enhance the ability of drug carrying nanoparticles to enter tumors. First they let the photosensitizing agent accumulate in the tumor, then illuminate the tumor with infrared light. The photosensitizing agent causes the blood vessels in the tumor to be more porous, therefore more drug carrying nanoparticles can enter the tumor.

One  heat therapy to destroy cancer tumors using nanoparticles is called AuroShell™. The AuroShell™ nanoparticles circulate through a patients bloodstream, exiting where the blood vessels are leaking at the site of cancer tumors. Once the nanoparticles accumulate at the tumor the AuroShell™ nanoparticles are used to concentrate the heat from infrared light to destroy cancer cells with minimal damage to surrounding healthy cells. For a good visual illustration of this process, click  here. Nanospectra Biosciences has developed such a treatment using AuroShell™ that has been approved for a pilot trial with human patients.

Targeted heat therapy is being developed to destroy breast cancer tumors. In this method antibodies that are strongly attracted to proteins produced in one type of breast cancer cell are attached to nanotubes, causing the nanotubes to accumulate at the tumor. Infrared light from a laser is absorbed by the nanotubes and produces heat that incinerates the tumor. For more details read the article at this link.

An intriguing targeted chemotherapy method uses one nanoparticle to deliver the chemotherapy drug and a separate nanoparticle to guide the drug carrier to the tumor. First gold nanorods circulating through the bloodstream exit where the blood vessels are leaking at the site of cancer tumors. Once the nanorods accumulate at the tumor they are used to concentrate the heat from infrared light; heating up the tumor. This heat increases the level of a stress related protein on the surface of the tumor. The drug carrying nanoparticle (a liposome) is attached to amino acids that bind to this protein, so the increased level of protein at the tumor speeds up the accumulation of the chemotherapy drug carrying liposome at the tumor. For more details read the article at this link.

Another method that targets individual cancer cells inserts gold nanoparticles into the cells, then shines a laser on the nanoparticles. The heat explodes the cancer cells. For more details read the article at this link.

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