Researchers around Antonios G. Kanaras, University of Southhampton, designed gold nanoparticles to complex with particular receptors on the cellular membrane which strongly affect the expression levels of important genes involved in the formation of new blood vessels, a process termed angiogenesis – a complex process responsible for the supply of oxygen and nutrients to most types of cancer.
The gold nanoparticles can have a dual role in cellular manipulation: Applying laser irradiation, they can either be used to destroy endothelial cells, as a measure to cut the blood supply to tumours, or to deliberately open up the cellular membrane in order to deliver a drug efficiently.
The development of the presented technology as a therapeutic tool is a goal of the research, and current efforts are focused on the potential manipulation of the actual angiogenic process, both in vitro and in vivo.
- Receptor-Mediated Interactions between Colloidal Gold Nanoparticles and Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells,
Dorota Bartczak , Tilman Sanchez-Elsner , Fethi Louafi , Timothy M. Millar, Antonios G. Kanaras,
Small 2011, 7 (3), 388-394.