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Ann Biomed Eng. 2012 Feb;40(2):507-15. doi: 10.1007/s10439-011-0415-1. Epub 2011 Oct 7.

Macrophages as cell-based delivery systems for nanoshells in photothermal therapy.

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Department of Health Physics and Diagnostic Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV 89154, USA.


Site-specific delivery of nanoparticles poses a significant challenge, especially in the brain where the blood-brain barrier prevents the entry of most therapeutic compounds including nanoparticle-based anti-cancer agents. In this context, the use of macrophages as vectors for the delivery of gold-silica nanoshells to infiltrating gliomas will be reviewed in this article. Gold-silica nanoshells are readily phagocytosed by macrophages without any apparent toxic effects, and the results of in vitro studies have demonstrated the migratory potential of nanoshell-loaded macrophages in human glioma spheroids. Of particular interest is the observation that, after near-infrared exposure of spheroids containing nanoshell-loaded macrophages, sufficient heat was generated to suppress spheroid growth. Collectively, these findings demonstrate the potential of macrophages as nanoshell delivery vectors for photothermal therapy of gliomas, and they certainly provide the basis for future animal studies.

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