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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Heating Silver Nanoparticles to Kill Cancer Cells

Killing cancer cells with heat is not a new idea, but researchers at Dartmouth- Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, are using silver nanoparticles to help minimize damage to adjacent healthy cells during the heating process.
In their experiments, the researchers introduce inactive, metallic nanoparticles containing silver, gold or iron to cancer cells which absorb the microscopic particles. The nanoparticles are then shot with magnetic energy, infrared light, or radio waves. The interaction creates heat that kills cancer cells. In addition, when precisely applied, the heat can also prompt the body’s immune system to kill cancer cells that have not been heated. The goal is to kill cancer cells but leave unharmed healthy nearby tissue and cells. The small size of the nanoparticles helps to focus the heat therapy.
“The use of heat to treat cancer was first recorded by ancient Egyptians, but has reemerged with high-tech modern systems as a contributor to the new paradigm of fighting cancer with the patient’s own immune system,” said Steve Fiering, PhD, Norris Cotton Cancer Center researcher and professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and of Genetics at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.
The Dartmouth-Hitchcock team is also using nanoparticles to deliver anti-cancer drugs with pinpoint accuracy. “Our lab’s approach differs from most in that we use nanoparticles to stimulate the immune system to attack tumors and there are a variety of potential ways that can be done,” said Fiering. “Perhaps the most exciting potential of nanoparticles is that although very small, they can combine multiple therapeutic agents. Now that efforts to stimulate anti-tumor immune responses are moving from the lab to the clinic, the potential for nanoparticles to be utilized to improve an immune- based therapy approach is attracting a lot of attention from both scientists and clinicians. Clinical usage does not appear too distant.” Link

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