Gold Nanostars Target Drug Directly to the Cancer Cell Nucleus

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Nanotechnology, which offers powerful new possibilities for targeted cancer therapies,┬áhas been generating a lot of excitement in the cancer research community. Northwestern University scientists recently developed specialized nanoparticle that can deliver a drug directly to a cancer cell’s nucleus — an important feature for effective treatment [1].

Gold nanostars

Shaped like a star with 5 to 10 points, and made of gold, the “nanostar” has a large surface area that researchers load with drug molecules.

Teri W. Odom, who led the study of human cervical and ovarian cancer cells, said:

Our drug-loaded gold nanostars are tiny hitchhikers. They are attracted to a protein on the cancer cell’s surface that conveniently shuttles the nanostars to the cell’s nucleus. Then, on the nucleus’ doorstep, the nanostars release the drug, which continues into the nucleus to do its work.

Using electron microscopy, researchers found that the drug-loaded nanoparticles were actively transported to the nucleus and dramatically changed the shape of the cancer cell nucleus. The change in shape after drug release was associated with cell death and the cell population becoming less viable.

The findings are published in the journal ACS Nano [1].

Source: Northwestern University


  1. Dam et al. Direct Observation of Nanoparticle-Cancer Cell Nucleus Interactions. ACS Nano. 2012 Mar 22. [Epub ahead of print]
    View abstract
About the Author

Walter Jessen, Ph.D. is a Data Scientist, Digital Biologist, and Knowledge Engineer. His primary focus is to build and support expert systems, including AI (artificial intelligence) and user-generated platforms, and to identify and develop methods to capture, organize, integrate, and make accessible company knowledge. His research interests include disease biology modeling and biomarker identification. He is also a Principal at Highlight Health Media, which publishes Highlight HEALTH, and lead writer at Highlight HEALTH.