Localized drug release hopes to improve cancer treatment and reduce the unhappy side effects of standard approaches. Now, researchers at McGill University (Montreal, QC, Canada) have developed an approach that combines the positives of two earlier proposals, and overcomes drawbacks of both.
They created nanoparticles able to convert near-infrared (NIR) light (which penetrates tissue, but has limited ability to trigger photosensitive drug carriers) into ultraviolet (UV) light (which effectively triggers drug release, but does not penetrate tissue well and is biotoxic).1 The "secret sauce" is a UV-sensitive hydrogel coating infused with a fluorescent protein—which served as a stand-in for drug molecules in their experiments. When exposed to NIR light, the particles instantaneously converted the light to UV, which induced the shell to release the protein payload. The researchers note that the approach could also be used to target agents for imaging and diagnostics.
1. G. Jalani et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc., 138, 3, 1078–1083 (2016).