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Gold Nanoparticles Synthesized by NANBIOSIS U9 will destroy tumor cells without drugs

A CIBER-BBN team at the University of Zaragoza has developed intelligent shuttles (cell vesicles -exosomes-) to transfer nanoparticles to the interior of tumor cells and destroy them by means of heat and without drugs, following the “Trojan horse” strategy.

NANBIOSIS U9, “Synthesis of Nanoparticles Unit has developed the procedure to be able to internalize gold nanoparticles, with surface plasmon in the NIR electromagnetic range, inside extracellular vesicles derived from stem cells. The synthesis of the gold nanoparticles has been produced according to the synthesis procedures of UNIT 9 of the ICTS NANBIOSIS based on the galvanic substitution reaction in the liquid phase of Co atoms by Au+3 ions, generating a hollow structure whose geometry gives gold nanoparticles unique optical properties that allow the absorption of NIR light and its conversion into heat” , explain the researchers of NANBOSIS U9 Pilar Martín-Duque, Victor Sebastián and Jesús Santamaría.

They are gold nanoparticles belonging to what is known as “plasmonic nanoparticles” that have the ability to heat up when receiving near-infrared radiation, which penetrates the body. It is, therefore, a treatment without drugs, which uses the heat generated by the particles to cause cell death around them. These particles are taken to the tumor by exosomes, having been proved efectived in animal models.

“We have managed to reduce or eliminate tumors in mice without drugs, only with the heat generated by irradiating them with a laser. In other words, we inject the exosomes with the nanoparticles into the tail of the mouse and they alone “search” for the tumor, not only in conventional models but also in multinodular ones, similar to metastatic processes”, explains Pilar Martín Duque.

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Article of reference:

Transfer of photothermal nanoparticles using stem cell derived small extracellular vesicles for in vivo treatment of primary and multinodular tumors. María Sancho-Albero, Miguel Encinas-Giménez, Víctor Sebastián, Estela Pérez, Lluis Luján, Jesús Santamaría, Pilar Martín-Duque Journal of Extracellular Vesicles 2022 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jev2.12193

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Gold nanoparticles can activate drugs inside tumors

Jesus Santamaría, Scientific Director of Unit 9 of NANBIOSIS has participated in a study that shows the ability of gold nanoparticles to generate in situ potent anticancer drugs from inert molecules thanks to a mechanism of elimination of terminal chemical groups that nanometric gold is able to catalyze. Gold is ideal for this catalytic role due to its high biocompatibility.

These results, published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, offer new hope in the fight against cancer and have been obtained thanks to the collaboration of scientists of Unit 9 of NANBIOSIS and, Víctor Sebastián, Silvia Irusta and Jesús Santamaría, with researchers from the Center for Cancer Research at the University of Edinburgh, led by Dr. Unciti-Broceta.

The work reveals the possibility of carrying out catalysis in biological means using tiny particles of gold. These gold nanoparticles, camouflaged in a resin microcapsule implanted in the brain of a zebrafish, have succeeded in catalyzing a chemical reaction generating fluorescent compounds.

Significant practical importance

“The main problem of chemotherapy treatments are the side effects in various organs due to the toxicity of the molecules that are used to fight cancer. For this reason, alternative routes are explored from nanotechnology, for example, transporting drugs to the tumor using nanoparticles or alternative treatments to drugs, such as hyperthermia, elevation of local temperature, obtained with nanoparticles”, says Jesús Santamaría.

The conclusions of this work suggest a different way: the drug would be supplied to the patient in its inert form and only converted to the toxic form locally, thanks to the catalysis of the nanoparticles that a surgeon would implant in the tumor.


Article of reference

Pérez-López, A. M., Rubio-Ruiz, B., Sebastián, V., Hamilton, L., Adam, C., Bray, T. L., Irusta, S., Brennan, P. M., Lloyd-Jones, G. C., Sieger, D., Santamaría, J. and Unciti-Broceta, A. (2017). “Gold-Triggered Uncaging Chemistry in Living Systems”. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.. doi:10.1002/anie.201708379

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