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SLAS Technol. 2017 Feb;22(1):18-25. doi: 10.1177/2211068216645292. Epub 2016 Jul 10.

Polypeptide-Based Gold Nanoshells for Photothermal Therapy.

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1 Department of Bioengineering, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
2 Department of Electrical Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
3 Department of Surgery, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
4 Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
5 California NanoSystems Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Targeted killing of cancer cells by engineered nanoparticles holds great promise for noninvasive photothermal therapy applications. We present the design and generation of a novel class of gold nanoshells with cores composed of self-assembled block copolypeptide vesicles with photothermal properties. Specifically, poly(L-lysine)60- block-poly(L-leucine)20 (K60L20) block copolypeptide vesicles coated with a thin layer of gold demonstrate enhanced absorption of light due to surface plasmon resonance (SPR) in the near-infrared range. We show that the polypeptide-based K60L20 gold nanoshells have low toxicity in the absence of laser exposure, significant heat generation upon exposure to near-infrared light, and, as a result, localized cytotoxicity within the region of laser irradiation in vitro. To gain a better understanding of our gold nanoshells in the context of photothermal therapy, we developed a comprehensive mathematical model for heat transfer and experimentally validated this model by predicting the temperature as a function of time and position in our experimental setup. This model can be used to predict which parameters of our gold nanoshells can be manipulated to improve heat generation for tumor destruction. To our knowledge, our results represent the first ever use of block copolypeptide vesicles as the core material of gold nanoshells.


cancer; gold nanoshells; nanoparticles; photothermal therapies; polypeptide vesicles

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