Imaging nanoparticle puts the heat to ovarian cancer cells

Scientists from Oregon State University have developed a nanoparticle potentially capable of targeting and destroying tough-to-reach tumor cells left behind after surgery for ovarian cancer using heat.

The researchers are using a fluorescent molecule called naphthalocyanine normally employed as a diagnostic tool that accumulates at sites of ovarian tumors. And using biodegradable nanoparticles made of a polymer substance containing the naphthalocyanine, the team directed heat at the tumors with near-infrared light. And because the particles accumulated at the site, the treatment achieved complete tumor eradication in 5 mice treated for ovarian cancer with no recurrence after one month.

And being biodegradable, the treatment completely cleared from the animals' bodies within 96 hours.

"Given the current barriers associated with existing image guided surgery and phototherapy methods, we set out to create a better nanoplatform that serves as useful tools for surgeons," lead author Oleh Taratula said in a statement. "These challenges exist because certain compounds are not cancer-specific, demonstrate low fluorescence and phototherapeutic efficiency and gradually fade under light, leading to false negative results. Our nanoparticles are overcoming these issues, acting as an extra pair of eyes and scissors by providing real-time imaging and phototherapy treatment during surgery."

The team presented its findings at the 2015 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists earlier this week.

- here's the release