Fluorescent Nanoparticles May Help to Spot Cancer Cells Surgeons Could Easily Miss

Fluorescent Nanoparticles May Help to Spot Cancer Cells Surgeons Could Easily Miss
A fluorescent nanomedicine tool for cancer may help to identify which tissues to remove, as well as to kill malignant cells that can't be cut out with surgery, a new study from Oregon State University reports. The study, “A Tumor-Activatable Theranostic Nanomedicine Platform for NIR Fluorescence-Guided Surgery and Combinatorial Phototherapy,” appeared in the journal Theranostics. The technology contains nanoparticles tightly loaded with a dye. These particles can be injected either intravenously or into the peritoneum (the membrane lining the abdominal cavity). The intracellular environment of the cancerous cells appears able to turn on the particles’ fluorescence once they accumulate at the tumor site. Importantly, this process is specific to tumor cells and is non-toxic. The light is then detected by a near infrared (NIR) imaging system, which helps surgeons identify cancerous spots not otherwise visible. In addition, any fluorescent cancer areas that can’t be removed (are unresectable) can be irradiated with a NIR laser, which heats up the nanoparticles to kill the remaining tumor cells. This process is called phototherapy. "We have developed an activatable theranostic nanoplatform that can be used concurrently for two purposes: (1) tumor delineation with real-time near infrared (NIR) fluorescence signal during surgery, and (2) intraoperative targeted treatment to further eliminate unresected disease sites by non-toxic phototherapy," the researchers wrote. The nanomedicine tool has silicon naphthalocyanine (SiNc), a light-sensitive molecule designed to be non-fluorescent
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