Context: Scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have developed a new approach using hybrid nanoparticles to potentially detect and kill cancer cells, especially those which form a solid tumour mass. The researchers have tested the nanoparticles on lung cancer and cervical cancer cell lines in the lab. They now plan to take the results forward for clinical development.
About Hybrid nanoparticles:
- The IISc team created hybrid nanoparticles by combining gold and copper sulphide nanoparticles. They used a novel reduction method to deposit tiny seeds of gold onto the copper sulphide surface. The resulting hybrid nanoparticles are less than 8 nm in size.
- Copper sulphide nanoparticles have previously received attention for their application in cancer diagnosis.
- Gold nanoparticles can be chemically modified to target cancer cells and have shown anticancer effects.
- These particles have photothermal, oxidative stress, and photoacoustic properties, the properties can be utilised to kill cancer cells using heat and enable their detection using sound waves.
- Photothermal property: When light is shined on these hybrid nanoparticles, they absorb the light and generate heat, which can kill cancer cells.
- Oxidative stress: These nanoparticles produce singlet oxygen atoms that are toxic to the cancer cells.
- Photoacoustic property: The photoacoustic property of the nanoparticles allows them to absorb light and generate ultrasound waves, which can be used to detect cancer cells with high contrast once the particles reach them.
- Ultrasound waves generated from the particles allow for a more accurate image resolution as sound waves scatter less when they pass through tissues compared to light.
- Scans created from the generated ultrasound waves can also provide better clarity and can be used to measure the oxygen saturation in the tumour, boosting their detection.
- The small hybrid nanoparticles can potentially travel inside tissues easily and reach tumours. Further, it is believed that their small size would also allow them to leave the human body naturally without accumulating.
- The hybrid nanoparticle system can be integrated with existing systems of detection or treatment. For example, the nanoparticles can be triggered to produce heat by shining a light on them using an endoscope that is typically used for cancer screening.