George Bernard Shaw once said that “We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.” The Irish writer might not have had nanomaterials in mind then. However, chemists, bioengineers, and cell biologists at MIT, UC Santa Barbara, and UC San Diego have recently developed a mixture of nanomaterials that work together to kill cancerous tumors. Separately, these nanomaterials either fulfilled the purpose of staying long enough in the bloodstream to identify tumors or stick to tumors, but never both. Applying the concept of using a cocktail of drugs to amplify the destructive effect on a single aspect of a disease, the researchers mixed gold nanorod particles and either iron oxide nanoworms or doxorubicin-loaded liposomes. The gold nanorod particles in blood vessels identify the tumor by taking up infrared laser irradiation from a weak laser beam; afterwards, the iron oxide nanoworms or doxorubicin-loaded liposomes specifically target the heated tumor.
Michael Sailor at UC San Diego put it this way: “Think of them like soldiers attacking an enemy base.” The gold nanorods are the Special Forces, who come in first to mark the target. Then the Air Force flies in to deliver the laser-guided bomb. The devices are designed to minimize collateral damage to the rest of the body.”
This innovative cocktail of nanoparticles was shown in this study to be successful for mice with epithelial tumors. Hopefully, this collaboration of nanomaterials will be applied to quickly detect tumors with MRI in other live animals and thus dramatically reduce the size of tumors. There is truly value in cooperation, yes?