Nanotechnology is the engineering of small devices on a molecular, subatomic scale - the building of objects from bottom-to-top: from atoms to engineered nanoparticles.
Photothermal cancer therapy is a process under development that utilizes electromagnetic infrared radiation to destroy tumors. A photosensitive material is excited and becomes unstable after it absorbs energy from the wavelengths of near-infrared (NIR) light shone upon it. When this material tries to gain stability, it releases the energy it gained, killing the cancer cells nearby.
Biomolecule recognition involves the use of ligands to specifically target a cell and stimulate a signal pathway that elicits a cellular response. The specificity of the gold nanoparticles to the pancreatic cancer cells prevents the elimination of healthy cells.
LANAPT involves the combination of the technologies of nanoparticles, photothermal cancer therapy, and biomolecule recognition. Application of gold nanoparticles to photothermal therapy allows for minimized toxicity and invasion into a patient’s healthy cells.
Nanoparticles are nanoscale devices ranging from 1 nanometer (nm) to 100 nm in diameter. In LANAPT, gold nanoshells (a type of nanoparticle) 70 nm in diameter are used; the size will allow them to fit in the blood stream but also prevent them from entering and interacting with healthy body cells.
Nanoshells are made from small silica particles aggregated with chemicals that develop the silica particles’ stickiness. Gold particles smaller than nanoshells are added to the sticky silica particles and then allowed to bond together, resulting in a glass core surrounded by a continuous gold shell. Gold nanoshells have strong electric fields on their surfaces, which intensifies the absorbing and scattering of infrared radiation.
Model of Gold Nanoshell