Researchers at the University of Arkansas have developed a novel imaging technique that uses coated carbon nanotubes to map lymphatic endothelial cells for detecting cancer metastasis in sentinel lymph nodes.
The carbon nanotubes are coated in gold, which is then itself coated with a cell targeting bio-agent that ensures specificity to the targeted tissue. In this case the cancer metastasis.
This new method could be used as an alternative to other nanoparticles and fluorescent labels used in non-invasive detection of cancerous cells. It is thought that these specialised nanotubes would be more efficient and less toxic in labeling their targets.
The carbon nanotubes were coated in a thin film of gold due to past concerns about toxicity of nanotubes in vivo. However it was found that once these nanotubes were gold coated they absorbed laser radiation more efficiently and were less toxic. More importantly this meant that very low levels of radiation could be used to detect the nanotubes.
The synthesis process involves the reaction of the carbon nanotubes and gold chloride in ambient temperatures. This technique is said to be very simple and above all environmentally friendly.
A study has been carried out in which the carbon nanotubes have been used as a contrast agent for detecting cancer cells in the lymphatic system. This plays an important role in metastasis.
The golden nanotubes were marked with LYVE-1 a specific receptor found on lymphatic endothelium. They were targeted to these cells as they play an important role in metastasis as they come into contact with tumor cells.
With this technique it was demonstrated that the golden nanoparticles could be used to diagnose and treat the cancer at a cellular level. This entailed both targeting to the lymphatic endothelium and eradication of cancer micro-metastasis in the critical sentinal lymph nodes. This is incredibly important as the sentinal lymph nodes are those reached first by metastasizing cancer cells from a primary tumour.
This development means that in the future it may be possible therapeutically to prevent tumour metastasis with the use of golden coated nanoparticles. – CT
Source: University of Arkansas