Rice University Scientists Kill Cancer with ‘Nanobubbles’
Physicists have discovered a new method to target individual diseased cells and destroying them with tiny explosions
The scientists used lasers to make "nanobubbles" by zapping gold nanoparticles inside cells. In tests on cancer cells, they found they could tune the lasers to create either small, bright bubbles that were visible but harmless or large bubbles that burst the cells.
"Single-cell targeting is one of the most touted advantages of nanomedicine, and our approach delivers on that promise with a localized effect inside an individual cell," said Rice physicist Dmitri Lapotko, the lead researcher on the project. "The idea is to spot and treat unhealthy cells early, before a disease progresses to the point of making people extremely ill."
Lapotko said the nanobubble technology could be used for "theranostics," a single process that combines diagnosis and therapy. In addition, because the cell-bursting nanobubbles also show up on microscopes in real time, Lapotko said the technique can be used for post-therapeutic assessment, or what physicians often refer to as "guidance."The research resulted from collaboration between Rice and the Lykov Institute of the Academy of Science of Belarus, which recently established the US-Belarus Research Lab of Fundamental and Biomedical Nanophotonics.