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Researchers to test nanoparticle-based theranostics for pancreatic cancer treatment

September 15, 2017

At the heart of the particle is a nanoshell that can be used to kill cancer cells with heat. The particle can also be tagged with antibodies that allow it to home in on specific types of cancer cells. In addition, the nanoparticle is designed to provide high-resolution images regarding its location in the body and in the tumor. This is accomplished by combining an FDA-cleared dye for fluorescence imaging with an active marker for MRI imaging. These combined capabilities allow researchers to track the nanoparticles throughout the body and even observe their distribution within the tumor before, during and after treatment.

"This level of highly detailed information on nanoparticle location in the body has not been obtainable previously," Halas said.

In the first published tests of the new particle last year, Joshi, Halas and colleagues showed it could be used to simultaneously detect and destroy breast and ovarian cancer cells in cell cultures.

In the NCI study, researchers will test whether the particles can be used to image and treat pancreatic cancer in mice. The tests will investigate how well the particles work as imaging agents -- both in MRI scans and in fluorescent optical scans, how well they target specific cell types, where they go inside the body after testing and treatment and how well they perform as therapeutic agents. In addition, Krishnan's lab at MD Anderson has a particular interest in testing the particles to see if they can be used to boost the effectiveness of radiation therapy.

"Nanoparticle-based theranostics holds great promise, not only for treating pancreatic cancer, but for treating other forms of cancer as well," Halas said. "But successfully translating new technology like this from the lab to the clinic requires excellent research partnerships, like those we have at Baylor College of Medicine and MD Anderson."

Source: Rice University