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Mol Cancer Ther. 2008 Jun;7(6):1730-9. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-08-0016.

In vitro and in vivo targeting of hollow gold nanoshells directed at epidermal growth factor receptor for photothermal ablation therapy.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Diagnostic Imaging, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Laser-induced phototherapy is a new therapeutic use of electromagnetic radiation for cancer treatment. The use of targeted plasmonic gold nanoparticles can reduce the laser energy necessary for selective tumor cell destruction. However, the ability for targeted delivery of the currently used gold nanoparticles to tumor cells is limited. Here, we describe a new class of molecular specific photothermal coupling agents based on hollow gold nanoshells (HAuNS; average diameter, approximately 30 nm) covalently attached to monoclonal antibody directed at epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). The resulting anti-EGFR-HAuNS exhibited excellent colloidal stability and efficient photothermal effect in the near-infrared region. EGFR-mediated selective uptake of anti-EGFR-HAuNS in EGFR-positive A431 tumor cells but not IgG-HAuNS control was shown in vitro by imaging scattered light from the nanoshells. Irradiation of A431 cells treated with anti-EGFR-HAuNS with near-infrared laser resulted in selective destruction of these cells. In contrast, cells treated with anti-EGFR-HAuNS alone, laser alone, or IgG-HAuNS plus laser did not show observable effect on cell viability. Using 111In-labeled HAuNS, we showed that anti-EGFR-HAuNS could be delivered to EGFR-positive tumors at 6.8% ID/g, and the microscopic image of excised tumor with scattering signal from nanoshells confirmed preferential delivery to A431 tumor of anti-EGFR-HAuNS compared with IgG-HAuNS. The absence of silica core, the relatively small particle size and high tumor uptake, and the absence of cytotoxic surfactant required to stabilize other gold nanoparticles suggest that immuno-HAuNS have the potential to extend to in vivo molecular therapy.

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