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Biotech Innovations
October 8, 2019

Gold Nanoshells Ablate Prostate Tumors

JAMA. 2019;322(14):1343. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.15868

Laser-excited gold nanoparticles safely destroyed prostate tumors in a recent pilot study involving 16 patients with low- to intermediate-risk prostate cancer. The highly targeted approach is being developed as an alternative to prostatectomy and radiation therapy, treatments associated with adverse urinary and sexual effects.

The technique, described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, takes advantage of tiny holes in tumor blood vessels. A day before an ablation procedure, gold-coated silica nanoshells 50 times smaller than a red blood cell are infused into a patient’s bloodstream. The particles preferentially accumulate in the tumors, gaining access through leaky blood vessels. The next day, lasers are beamed through needles inserted into the lesion. Set to a specific near-infrared wavelength, the lasers excite the nanoshells, heating them up.