Cancer cells before (a) and after (b) magnetic field assisted photothermal destruction using cw near-infrared laser beam. Live cells are stained green and dead cells are stained red.
team of University of Texas at Arlington researchers have developed a
method that uses magnetic carbon nanoparticles to target and destroy
cancer cells through laser therapy—a treatment they believe could be
effective in cases of skin and other cancers without damaging
surrounding healthy cells.
paper about the work by Ali R. Koymen, professor of physics, and
Samarendra Mohanty, assistant professor of physics, was published in
January’s edition of the Journal of Biomedical Optics.
Gu and Vijayalakshmi Vardarajan, two post-doctoral researchers in
Mohanty’s lab, were coauthors on the paper “Magnetic-field-assisted
photothermal therapy of cancer cells using Fe-doped carbon
these nanoparticles are magnetic, we can use an external magnetic field
to focus them on the cancer cells. Then, we use a low-power laser to
heat them and destroy the cells beneath,” Koymen said. “Since only the
carbon nanoparticles are affected by the laser, the method leaves the
healthy tissue unharmed and it is non-toxic.”
Mohanty and R.P. Chaudhary, a student in the UT Arlington College of
Engineering, developed a way of creating nanoparticles using an electric
plasma discharge inside a benzene solution. A paper on that discovery
was published in December in the Journal of Nanoscience and
Carbon nanoparticles produced for the cancer study varied from 5 to 10 nm wide. A human hair is about 100,000 nm wide.
said the carbon nanoparticles can be coated to make them attach to
cancer cells once they are positioned in an organ by the magnetic field.
He said the new method has several advantages over current technology
and could be administered using fiber optics inside the body.
using the magnetic field, we can make sure the carbon nanonparticles
are not excreted until the near-infrared laser irradiation is finished.
They are also crystalline and smaller than carbon nanotubes, which makes
for less cell toxicity,” he said.
magnetic carbon nanoparticles also are fluorescent. So they can be used
to enhance contrast of optical imaging of tumors along with that of
MRI, Mohanty said.
said lab tests also showed that the carbon nanoparticles and a cw
(continuous wave) near-infrared laser beam could be used to put a hole
in the cell, revealing another potential medical use.
killing the cell we can heat it up a little bit and deliver drugs and
genes to the cell using low power cw near-infrared laser beam. This is
an additional important novelty of our photothermal approach with carbon
nanoparticles,” he said.
Koymen and Mohanty are seeking funding from the National Institutes of Health to continue this work.