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Nanotheranostics. 2019 Mar 22;3(2):145-155. doi: 10.7150/ntno.32395. eCollection 2019.

Enhanced Photothermal Treatment Efficacy and Normal Tissue Protection via Vascular Targeted Gold Nanocages.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR.
Department of Otolaryngology and Phillips Classic Laser and Nanomedicine Laboratories, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR.
Trace Element and Radiogenic Isotope Lab, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR.


A major challenge in photothermal treatment is generating sufficient heat to eradicate diseased tissue while sparing normal tissue. Au nanomaterials have shown promise as a means to achieve highly localized photothermal treatment. Toward that end, the synthetic peptide anginex was conjugated to Au nanocages. Anginex binds to galectin-1, which is highly expressed in dividing endothelial cells found primarily in the tumor vasculature. The skin surface temperature during a 10 min laser exposure of subcutaneous murine breast tumors did not exceed 43°C and no normal tissue damage was observed, yet a significant anti-tumor effect was observed when laser was applied 24 h post-injection of targeted nanocages. Untargeted particles showed little effect in immunocompetent, tumor-bearing mice under these conditions. Photoacoustic, photothermal, and ICP-MS mapping of harvested tissue showed distribution of particles near the vasculature throughout the tumor. This uptake pattern within the tumor combined with a minimal overall temperature rise were nonetheless sufficient to induce marked photothermal efficacy and evidence of tumor control. Importantly, this evidence suggests that bulk tumor temperature during treatment does not correlate with treatment outcome, which implies that targeted nanomedicine can be highly effective when closely bound/distributed in and around the tumor endothelium and extensive amounts of direct tumor cell binding may not be a prerequisite of effective photothermal approaches.


galectin 1; gold nanoparticles; photothermal therapy; targeting; tissue-mapping

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