Novel nanoparticle delivers cancer therapy, fluoresces when cells die

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH; Boston, MA) have developed a nanoparticle that delivers a drug and then fluoresces green when cancer cells begin dying, allowing them to visualize whether a tumor is resistant or susceptible to a particular treatment much sooner than currently available clinical methods. They tested their approach in preclinical models, which could someday offer physicians a readout on the effectiveness of chemotherapy in as few as eight hours after treatment. The technology could also be used for monitoring the effectiveness of immunotherapy.

Related: Laser bioimaging technique defines pituitary tumors with extreme precision

The approach takes advantage of the fact that when cells die, a particular enzyme known as caspase is activated. The researchers designed a reporter element that, when in the presence of activated caspase, fluoresces green. The team then tested whether they could use the reporter nanoparticles to distinguish between drug-sensitive and -resistant tumors. Using nanoparticles loaded with anti-cancer drugs, the team tested a common chemotherapeutic agent, paclitaxel, in a preclinical model of prostate cancer and, separately, an immunotherapy that targets PD-L 1 in a preclinical model of melanoma. In the tumors that were sensitive to paclitaxel, the team saw an approximately 400% increase in fluorescence compared to tumors that were not sensitive to the drug. The team also saw a significant increase in the fluorescent signal in tumors treated with the anti-PD-L1 nanoparticles after five days.

Using reporter nanoparticles loaded with either a chemotherapy or immunotherapy, researchers could distinguish between drug-sensitive and drug-resistant tumors in a preclinical model of prostate cancer. (Image credit: Ashish Kulkarni, Brigham and Women's Hospital)

"We've demonstrated that this technique can help us directly visualize and measure the responsiveness of tumors to both types of drugs," says co-corresponding author Ashish Kulkarni, an instructor in the Division of Biomedical Engineering at BWH. "Current techniques, which rely on measurements of the size or metabolic state of the tumor, are sometimes unable to detect the effectiveness of an immunotherapeutic agent as the volume of the tumor may actually increase as immune cells begin to flood in to attack the tumor. Reporter nanoparticles, however, can give us an accurate read out of whether or not cancer cells are dying."

The research team now plans to focus on the design of radiotracers that can be used in humans, and tests of both safety and efficacy will be necessary before the current technique can be translated into clinical applications. Co-corresponding author Shiladitya Sengupta, PhD, a principal investigator in BWH's Division of Bioengineering, Kulkarni, and their colleagues are actively working on these steps to further the lab's goal of improving the management and treatment of cancer using nanotechnology.

Full details of the work appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; for more information, please visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1603455113.

Get All the BioOptics World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to BioOptics World Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now
Related Articles

New bioimaging technique offers clear view of nervous system

Scientists at Ludwig-Maximilians University have developed a technique for turning the body of a deceased rodent entirely transparent, revealing the central nervous system in unprecedented clarity....

Fluorescent jellyfish proteins light up unconventional laser

Safer lasers to map your cells could soon be in the offing -- all thanks to the humble jellyfish. Conventional lasers, like the pointer you might use to entertain your cat, produce light by emittin...

Microscope detects one million-plus biomarkers for sepsis in 30 minutes

A microscope has the potential to simultaneously detect more than one million biomarkers for sepsis at the point of care.

Eye test that pairs two in vivo imaging methods may detect Parkinson's earlier

A low-cost, noninvasive eye test pairs two in vivo imaging methods to help detect Parkinson's before clinical symptoms appear.

BLOGS

Neuro15 exhibitors meet exacting demands: Part 2

Increasingly, neuroscientists are working with researchers in disciplines such as chemistry and p...

Why be free?

A successful career contributed to keeping OpticalRayTracer—an optical design software program—fr...

LASER Munich 2015 is bio-bent

LASER World of Photonics 2015 included the European Conferences on Biomedical Optics among its si...

White Papers

Understanding Optical Filters

Optical filters can be used to attenuate or enhance an image, transmit or reflect specific wavele...

How can I find the right digital camera for my microscopy application?

Nowadays, image processing is found in a wide range of optical microscopy applications. Examples ...

CONNECT WITH US

            

Twitter- BioOptics World