Researchers Demonstrate Use of Gold Nanoparticles for Cancer Detection

By Carol Hyman, UCSF News Services | June 3, 2005

Binding gold nanoparticles to a specific antibody for cancer cells could make cancer detection much easier, say medical researchers from the University of California, San Francisco and Georgia Institute of Technology.

The researchers are a father and son, working together on opposite coasts. Their study findings are reported in a recent edition (May 11) of the journal Nano Letters, published by the American Chemical Society.

Principal author is Ivan El-Sayed, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology at UCSF Medical Center, who conducted the study with his father, Mostafa El-Sayed, PhD, director of the Laser Dynamics Laboratory and chemistry professor at Georgia Tech.

"Gold nanoparticles are very good at scattering and absorbing light," said Mostafa. "We wanted to see if we could harness that scattering property in a living cell to make cancer detection easier. So far, the results are extremely promising."

Many cancer cells have a protein, known as epidermal growth factor receptor (EFGR), all over their surface, while healthy cells typically do not express the protein as strongly. By conjugating, or binding, the gold nanoparticles to an antibody for EFGR, suitably named anti-EFGR, the researchers were able to get the nanoparticles to attach themselves to the cancer cells.

Read more at Carol Hyman, UCSF News Services