Glowing Nanoparticles Guide Doctors to Tiny Tumors


UC San Diego: Glowing Nanoparticles

Safer silicon nanoparticles glow, then degrade into harmless by-products. The tiny, newly designed nanoparticles, a thousand times smaller than the human hair, lodge in cancers too small to see, helping doctors see where tumors are or delivering precise doses of chemotherapy.

Scientists at the University of California in San Diego have a developed a new nanoparticle technique that doesn’t leave toxic metals behind in the body. Because the tiny particles are porous, chemotherapy molecules can be embedded in holes in their structure ten thousand times smaller than a human hair.

The materials have been tested in mice glow for several hours while chemotherapy is doing its work, then dim.  After four weeks there was no sign of the materials in the animals’ bodies.  To give a dose of the chemotherapy drug used without targeting it at the tumor would have been highly toxic.

Watch a video of the new materials.

SOURCE: Park J., Nature Materials, published online February 22, 2009.

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