A luminescent nanoparticle is being created by a physicist from University of Texas at Arlington, to use in security-related radiation detection, could be an advance in photodynamic cancer therapy.
Wei Chen, professor of physics and co-director of UT Arlington's Center for Security Advances Via Applied Nanotechnology, was testing a copper-cysteamine complex created in his lab when he discovered unexplained decreases in its luminescence, or light emitting power, over a time-lapse exposure to X-rays. Looking further, he found that the nanoparticles, called Cu-Cy, were losing energy as they emitted singlet oxygen - a toxic byproduct that is used to damage cancer cells in photodynamic therapy. Because Chen also is leading federally funded cancer research, he knew he had found something unique.
Testing revealed that the Cu-Cy nanoparticles, combined with X-ray exposure, significantly slowed tumor growth in lab studies. "This new idea is simpler and better than previous photodynamic therapy methods. You don't need as many steps. This material alone can do the job," Chen said. "It is the most promising thing we have found in these cancer studies and we've been looking at this for a long time." Chen's research is being published in the August edition of the Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology under the title "A New X-Ray Activated Nanoparticle Photosensitizer for Cancer Treatment." Co-authors are Lun Ma, a research assistant professor, and Xiaoju Zou, a research associate.