NanoPopcorn targets, cooks and tracks prostate cancer cells

Another week, another nano-prefixed word to add to the lexicon: NanoPopcorn. This one comes courtesy of researchers at Jackson State University in Mississippi who created a popcorn-shaped nanoparticle that can perform three separate tasks. First, it can detect as few as 50 prostate cancer cells, then it switches into thermal scalpel mode to cook the cancer cells to death, and it can track the response of cancer cells to the therapy.

Researcher Paresh Ray and his team synthesized the nanoparticles and attached tumor-targeting antibodies to popcorn-shaped gold constructs. Shine them with light, and the nanoparticles emit light at a different frequency that can be detected using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, or SERS. The nanoparticles produce a detectable optical signal after binding to clusters of a 50 cells. Once bound to prostate cancer cells, the gold nanoparticles can absorb light and convert it to heat, raising the local temperature to 48 degrees Celsius--enough to kill the tumor cells.

They also discovered a correlation between the number of cells killed and the reduction in signal intensity, suggesting this type of measurement could assess the therapeutic effect following the therapy.

The research was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

- take a look at the story from the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer
- and the abstract in the Journal of the American Chemical Society