Nanoscale 'Egg' Kills Tumor Cells with Platinum

Jan 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: Engineering phase changes in nanoparticle arrays

Related Stories

Exposing breast cancer using nanoscale polymers

May 13, 2015

Photoacoustic imaging is a ground-breaking technique for spotting tumors inside living cells with the help of light-absorbing compounds known as contrast agents. A*STAR researchers have now discovered a way ...

Combining magnetism and light to fight cancer

Apr 01, 2015

By combining, in a liposome, magnetic nanoparticles and photosensitizers that are simultaneously and remotely activated by external physical stimuli (a magnetic field and light), scientists at the Laboratoire ...

New nanodevice defeats drug resistance

Mar 02, 2015

Chemotherapy often shrinks tumors at first, but as cancer cells become resistant to drug treatment, tumors can grow back. A new nanodevice developed by MIT researchers can help overcome that by first blocking ...

Recommended for you

Engineering phase changes in nanoparticle arrays

3 hours ago

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have just taken a big step toward the goal of engineering dynamic nanomaterials whose structure and associated properties can be ...

Gel filled with nanosponges cleans up MRSA infections

May 18, 2015

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego developed a gel filled with toxin-absorbing nanosponges that could lead to an effective treatment for skin and wound infections caused by MRSA (methicillin-resistant ...

User comments : 0

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.