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Expert Rev Med Devices. 2007 Mar;4(2):131-6.

Thermal scalpel to target cancer.

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  • 1University of Alabama at Birmingham, 901 19th Street South, BMRII-#512, Birmingham, AL 35294-2180, USA.


Nanotechnology is increasingly applied to the field of medicine, particularly for the treatment of cancer. In this regard, gold nanoparticles can mediate hyperthermia induction and kill tumor cells upon laser irradiation, thereby functioning as a 'thermal scalpel'. Recent developments in gold nanoparticle design have resulted in their absorption of energy in the near-infrared wavelength spectrum, which is best suited to tissue penetration and, thus, clinical application. Furthermore, to ensure accumulation of nanoparticles in neoplastic tissue, targeting ligands are being incorporated into the thermal scalpel schema. Examples of targeting ligands include antibodies and targeted gene therapy vectors. Therapeutic efficacy has been established in cell culture models for several developed thermal scalpel systems and a small number have demonstrated a therapeutic effect in animal models of cancer. Future considerations include analysis of the biodistribution and therapeutic efficacy of thermal scalpels using stringent models of cancer. Furthermore, the immunogenicity and toxicity of thermal scalpels must be established before clinical translation can be achieved.

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