Plasmonic photo-thermal ablation of cancer cells with radiopharmaceutical labeled gold nanoparticles
Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, just behind cardiovascular disease. Winning the cancer war is a never-ending mandatory task. Nanotechnology with the help of noble materials (e.g. gold nanoparticles, NPs) is a powerful and invisible weapon against cancer. It enables scientists to utilize the unique physical, chemical and optical properties that naturally occur at the nanoscale. Under a suitable light irradiation, NPs can generate an incredible amount of heat suitable to literally burn the tumor sites. Although there are more than 100 types of cancers, our project will focus the attention on gliomas: the most aggressive tumors with a median survival of approximately 20 months in patients who undergo total surgical resection, radio and chemotherapy. In this project, we propose an innovative approach based on the possibility to combine in a single gold nano-unit: therapy, targeting and detection. To this end, the sweet surface modified NPs can selectively recognize the cancer cells; the presence of a radio tracer enables the possibility to localize NPs in the human-body with very high precision, thanks to the computer tomography (CT) - positron emission tomography (PET) technology; the photo-thermal properties of gold NPs are used to burn (once-for-all) the tumor sites. The magnetic resonance (MR) thermometry allows measuring the temperature distribution under laser irradiation while performing both in-vitro and in-vivo experiments. The project has a strong multidisciplinary approach because is conceived in such a way that physics, nuclear medicine and oncology work hand to hand in order to persuade the same accomplishment: winning the cancer battle.