Nanoparticles blast their way into cancer cells

Nanoparticles are moving in like Star Wars storm troopers, lasers blasting, to punch holes in cells and force them to take in anti-cancer therapeutic agents. No, it's not the latest summer action thriller in your local megaplex. It's research that will be reported in the August issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Georgia Tech researchers had a little fun with tiny laser blasts that activated carbon nanoparticles and, separately, carbon nanotubes, which opened holes in in cell membranes just long enough to admit therapeutic agents contained in the surrounding fluid. By adjusting laser exposure, the researchers administered a small-molecule marker compound to 90 percent of targeted cells--while keeping more than 90 percent of the cells alive.

"This technique could allow us to deliver a wide variety of therapeutics that now cannot easily get into cells," said Mark Prausnitz, a professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "One of the most significant uses for this technology could be for gene-based therapies, which offer great promise in medicine, but whose progress has been limited by the difficulty of getting DNA and RNA into cells."

- read the release for more