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Biophys J. 2006 Jan 15;90(2):619-27. Epub 2005 Oct 20.

Photothermal nanotherapeutics and nanodiagnostics for selective killing of bacteria targeted with gold nanoparticles.

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Philips Classic Laser Laboratories, and Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA.


We describe a new method for selective laser killing of bacteria targeted with light-absorbing gold nanoparticles conjugated with specific antibodies. The multifunctional photothermal (PT) microscope/spectrometer provides a real-time assessment of this new therapeutic intervention. In this integrated system, strong laser-induced overheating effects accompanied by the bubble-formation phenomena around clustered gold nanoparticles are the main cause of bacterial damage. PT imaging and time-resolved monitoring of the integrated PT responses assessed these effects. Specifically, we used this technology for selective killing of the Gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus by targeting the bacterial surface using 10-, 20-, and 40-nm gold particles conjugated with anti-protein A antibodies. Labeled bacteria were irradiated with focused laser pulses (420-570 nm, 12 ns, 0.1-5 J/cm(2), 100 pulses), and laser-induced bacterial damage observed at different laser fluences and nanoparticle sizes was verified by optical transmission, electron microscopy, and conventional viability testing.

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