Researchers from Brown University and the University of Rhode Island have developed a new technique to improve radiation therapy acts on cancer cells.
Gold nanoparticles are delivered to cancer cells using pH Low-Insertion
Peptides (pHLIP), compounds that are attracted to acidic environments. pHLIPs accumulate around tumor sites since cancer cells tend to be more acidic than healthy ones.
The team attached gold nanoparticles to the pHLIPs and injected the compound into samples of tumor tissue. They showed that the cancer cells had a 24% lower survival rate than cells irradiated without the injection and 21% lower when injecting just the gold particles without the pHLPs.
The technology will soon be tested on animal cancer models, hopefully
leading to clinical applications of the technology in humans. There potential for more precise tumor targeting, and a significant reduction in the radiation dose delivered to patients if pHLP delivered nanoparticles is used.