Nanoscale 'Egg' Kills Tumor Cells with Platinum

January 22, 2007

Researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have developed a nanoscale “egg” that could safely deliver platinum, a known anticancer agent, to tumor cells. Tests with this nanoscale egg, which has a hard cobalt shell surrounding a “yolk” of platinum and iron, show that it is seven times more toxic than the anticancer agent cisplatin to cancer cells.

Reporting its work in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a team of investigators led by Bing Xu, Ph.D., describes the methods used to make these novel nanoparticles. The researchers start by synthesizing cobalt sulfide nanoparticles, which naturally form a hollow shell structure, in the presence of nanoparticles made of iron and platinum.

Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and x-ray spectroscopy studies of these nanoparticles indicate that the resulting structures have a porous crystalline shell of cobalt sulfide surrounding nanocrystals of iron/platinum. The pores in the outer shell are large enough for water to access the interior of the nanoparticle.

When added to cultured human tumor cells, these nanoparticles had an immediate effect on cell viability. After 72 hours, all tumor cells exposed to the nanoparticles died. Again using TEM, the investigators showed that the cobalt sulfide shell remained intact after the nanoparticles were taken up by tumor cells. By themselves, hollow cobalt sulfide nanoparticles – the egg without the yolk – were not toxic to cultured human cancer cells.

The researchers hypothesize that cells take up the nanoparticles via a process known as endocytosis. As a result of endocytosis, the nanoparticles would end up in small intracellular compartments that are acidic. Under those conditions, the iron/platinum nanocrystals would dissolve, allowing the nanoscale eggs to release platinum into the cancer cells.

This work is detailed in a paper titled, “FePt@CoS2 yolk-shell nanocrystals as a potent agent to kill HeLa cells.” This paper was published online in advance of print publication. An abstract of this paper is available at the journal’s website.

Source: National Cancer Institute

Explore further: Nanocarriers may carry new hope for brain cancer therapy

Related Stories

Nanocarriers may carry new hope for brain cancer therapy

November 19, 2015

Glioblastoma multiforme, a cancer of the brain also known as "octopus tumors" because of the manner in which the cancer cells extend their tendrils into surrounding tissue, is virtually inoperable, resistant to therapies, ...

Building a better liposome

October 13, 2015

Using computational modeling, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, the Colorado School of Mines and the University of California, Davis have come up with a design for a better liposome. Their findings, while theoretical, ...

Gadolinium-based particles show and treat tumours

October 27, 2015

Neutron-capture therapy (NCT) provides an effective localised treatment for irradiating cancer tumours. However to ensure only cancerous cells are destroyed it is helpful to see where NCT drugs have accumulated in order to ...

Recommended for you

Physicists develop new technique to fathom 'smart' materials

November 26, 2015

Physicists from the FOM Foundation and Leiden University have found a way to better understand the properties of manmade 'smart' materials. Their method reveals how stacked layers in such a material work together to bring ...

Mathematicians identify limits to heat flow at the nanoscale

November 24, 2015

How much heat can two bodies exchange without touching? For over a century, scientists have been able to answer this question for virtually any pair of objects in the macroscopic world, from the rate at which a campfire can ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.