UCSB researchers develop drug delivery system using nanoparticles and lasers

Posted By News On September 10, 2009 - 1:10pm
UCSB researchers develop drug delivery system using nanoparticles and lasers

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have developed a new way to deliver drugs into cancer cells by exposing them briefly to a non-harmful laser. Their results are published in a recent article in ACS Nano, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

"This entirely novel tool will allow biologists to investigate how genes function by providing them with temporal and spatial control over when a gene is turned on or off," explained Norbert Reich, senior author and a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCSB. "In a nutshell, what we describe is the ability to control genes in cells –– and we are working on doing this in animals –– simply by briefly exposing them to a non-harmful laser."

The scientists used cancer cells from mice, and grew them in culture. They then introduced gold nanoshells, with a peptide-lipid coating, that encapsulated "silencing ribonucleic acid" (siRNA), which was the drug that was taken up by the cells. Next, they exposed the cells to a non-harmful infrared laser.

The near-infrared laser pathway into the cell culture plate, traced by visible laser for photo.

(Photo Credit: Rod Rolle)

"A major technical hurdle is how to combine multiple biochemical components into a compact nanoparticle which may be taken up by cells and exist stably until the release is desired," said Gary Braun, first author and a graduate student in UCSB's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. "Laser-controlled release is a convenient and powerful tool, allowing precise dosing of particular cells within a group. The use of biologically friendly tissue penetration with near-infrared light is the ideal for extending this capability into larger biological systems such as tissues and animals."

The authors demonstrated, for the first time, the delivery of a potent siRNA cargo inside mammalian cancer cells, released by exposing the internalized nanoparticles for several seconds to a pulsed near-infrared laser tuned for peak absorption with a specific spatial pattern. The technique can be expanded to deliver numerous drug molecules against diverse biological targets.

Gary Braun uses cancer cell cultures and a pulsed laser to study remote control gene silencing by specialized nanoparticles. The normally invisible laser is replaced by a visible one for the photo.

(Photo Credit: Rod Rolle)

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <img> <strong> <object> <cite><p><br><i><b><center><ul><li><div><html5:figure><html5:figcaption>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
Sorry, we know you're not a spambot, but they're out there