WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – March 12, 2018 – One
major problem in treating cancer is identifying the location of small tumors
and treating them before they metastasize.
an effort to overcome that problem, researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical
Center have developed a fluorescing nanoparticle capable of finding tumors, lighting
up upon arrival and being activated with light to generate heat to destroy the
study in which these nanoparticles – Hybrid Donor-Acceptor Polymer Particles,
or H-DAPPs – successfully located and killed breast cancer skills in mice is
published in the current issue of the journal ACS Applied Materials and
unexpected result was how efficiently the nanoparticles localized to the tumors
without any targeting agent,” said the study’s lead author, Nicole
Levi-Polyachenko, Ph.D., associate professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery
at Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist. “Achieving high
enough levels of H-DAPPs within the tumor to allow it to be seen provides an
advantage for knowing exactly where light should be applied to generate heat
and kill the cancer cells.”
investigators have developed nanoparticles to detect tumors or carry drugs, and
Levi-Polyachenko’s team has created polymers that strongly absorb infrared
light and generate heat. Regarding the new nanoparticle, she said, “It was
exciting to figure out the step for combining a heat-generating polymer with a
light-emitting polymer to allow for detection and on-demand heat treatment.”
are made of electrically conductive polymers and are smaller than 100
nanometers (0.00000393701 of an inch) in diameter. Their small size and soft composition
makes it easy for them to travel through the bloodstream to the tumor.
is much more research needed to ensure that H-DAPPs can safely be used in humans,”
Levi-Polyachenko said. “But we are enthusiastic about exploring the use of
H-DAPPs with other cancer types and eventually in patients.”
The study was supported by National Institutes of
Health Grant R21 EB019748-02.
are Elizabeth Graham-Gurysh, Ph.D., Sneha Kelkar, Ph.D., Eleanor
McCabe-Lankford, Ph.D., Nancy D. Kock, Ph.D., and Theodore Brown, B.S., of Wake
Forest Baptist; Narayanan Kuthirummal, of the College of Charleston (S.C.); and
Aaron M. Mohs, Ph.D., University of Nebraska Medical Center.