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Clin Cancer Res. 2010 Dec 1;16(23):5712-21. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-10-2055.

Noninvasive radiofrequency field destruction of pancreatic adenocarcinoma xenografts treated with targeted gold nanoparticles.

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  • 1Department of Surgical Oncology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.



Pancreatic carcinoma is one of the deadliest cancers with few effective treatments. Gold nanoparticles (AuNP) are potentially therapeutic because of the safety demonstrated thus far and their physiochemical characteristics. We used the astounding heating rates of AuNPs in nonionizing radiofrequency (RF) radiation to investigate human pancreatic xenograft destruction in a murine model.


Weekly, Panc-1 and Capan-1 human pancreatic carcinoma xenografts in immunocompromised mice were exposed to an RF field 36 hours after treatment (intraperitoneal) with cetuximab- or PAM4 antibody-conjugated AuNPs, respectively. Tumor sizes were measured weekly, whereas necrosis and cleaved caspase-3 were investigated with hematoxylin-eosin staining and immunofluorescence, respectively. In addition, AuNP internalization and cytotoxicity were investigated in vitro with confocal microscopy and flow cytometry, respectively.


Panc-1 cells demonstrated increased apoptosis with decreased viability after treatment with cetuximab-conjugated AuNPs and RF field exposure (P = 0.00005). Differences in xenograft volumes were observed within 2 weeks of initiating therapy. Cetuximab- and PAM4-conjugated AuNPs demonstrated RF field-induced destruction of Panc-1 and Capan-1 pancreatic carcinoma xenografts after 6 weeks of weekly treatment (P = 0.004 and P = 0.035, respectively). There was no evidence of injury to murine organs. Cleaved caspase-3 and necrosis were both increased in treated tumors.


This study demonstrates a potentially novel cancer therapy by noninvasively inducing intracellular hyperthermia with targeted AuNPs in an RF field. While the therapy is dependent on the specificity of the targeting antibody, normal tissues were without toxicity despite systemic therapy and whole-body RF field exposure.

©2010 AACR.

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