Peptide-coated nano-gold shows cancer-fighting promise

Peptide-coated gold nanoparticles affect blood vessel growth (click to enlarge).--Courtesy of Antonios Kanaras

Researchers in the U.K. have coated drug-carrying gold nanoparticles with peptides that have been shown to affect the development of blood vessels. And the ones that inhibit their growth could potentially serve to curb the spread of cancer.

The scientists at the University of Southampton focused on the process of angiogenesis, which allows for the growth and development of blood vessels. Angiogenesis is an important function for wound healing, pregnancy and general growth but can also lead to tumor growth and metastasis, according to a report at And by using certain binding peptides that can activate or inhibit angiogenesis, the team found that gold particles were a suitable vehicle for these so-called angiogenic treatments.

Gold nanoparticles have been in the spotlight lately as drug-delivery vehicles for cancer, in particular for their cell-penetrating capabilities and their ability to carry toxic drugs with relative safety. But there have also been concerns over the safety of the gold particles themselves for their corruptive effect on cell membranes.

"Manipulating tumor angiogenesis is certainly the next big step in this research," said lead researcher Antonios Kanaras. "It is well known that cancer cells need angiogenesis to grow. Will it really be possible for us to stop angiogenesis near a tumor site using functionalized nanoparticles? And how efficient could such a strategy be? These are the questions that our research group is currently focusing on."

The team published the study in the journal ACS Nano.

- here's the report
- get the research abstract