Gold nanoshells successfully zap glioma tumors

Researchers from Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital have successfully destroyed tumors of human brain cancer cells in the first animal tests of a minimally invasive treatment that zaps glioma tumors with heat. The study appears in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology. The researchers reported that four of seven mice that received the new treatment for glioma tumors had no signs of cancer more than three months after treatment.

"This first round of in vivo animal tests suggests that photothermal therapy with nanoshells may one day be a viable option for glioma patients," said study co-author Jennifer West, in a statement. West cautioned that follow-up work in the laboratory is needed before any human testing of the therapy can begin. She said human trials of nanoshell phototherapy for glioma are likely at least a year away.

Gold nanoshells, which were invented by Rice researcher Naomi Halas in the mid-1990s, are smaller than red blood cells. Their core is nonconducting, and by varying the size of the core and thickness of the shell, researchers can tune them to respond to different wavelengths of light. Houston-based biomedical firm Nanospectra Biosciences, which holds the license for medical use of Rice's nanoshell technology, began the first human clinical trial of nanoshell phototherapy in 2008.

- take a look at the Rice University release
- and an abstract in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology

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