Gold nanoparticle clusters and bursts of infrared light eliminate postsurgery tumor cells

After tumor removal surgery, any part of the tumor that is left could potentially once again be harmful and spread. Now, using clusters of gold nanoparticles and short bursts of infrared light, researchers have homed in on those remaining cells to eradicate traces of the tumor with precision.

Irvine, CA-based Masimo's Dmitri Lapotko, formerly of Houston's Rice University, has pioneered the use of gold clusters to clean up leftover cancer cells, but the issues surrounding the technique have been troublesome in the past. Healthy cells have fallen victim to the continuous heat from the infrared light, and so the process can be harmful around healthy organs.

Lapotko's recent advance, though, is to use shorter bursts of the laser along with specially designed gold nanoparticles decorated with immune protein antibodies, according to a report from Science. And there were even some unexpected results: The high temperature at large clusters of gold particles also vaporized water molecules that quickly exploded, physically ripping apart nearby cancer cells. And this happened exclusively around the tumor cells and not normal ones.

In the scientists' report in Nature Nanotechnology, they stated that 100% of the animals in the study survived after being treated for human squamous cell carcinoma. No residual cancer cells remained alive.

- here's the Science report