Development of Novel Gold Nanorods Polymeric Nanoparticles (GNR-PNP) Structures for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Applications

Project Acronym: GNR-PNP

Project partially funded by ERDF - POR Piemonte 2007-2013 Activity I.1.2 Poli di innovazione.; through the Polo BioPmed cluster.

The project partnership integrates various expertise in life sciences, including organic and colloidal chemistry, physical pharmacy, drug delivery systems development, cell and tissue modelling for oncological applications, veterinary medicine and preclinical imaging.

bioPmed members partnership

External collaborations


GNR-PNP project is investigating innovative nanostructures based on Gold Nanorods (GNR), assessing their potential for application in oncology, both as diagnostic contrast agents, and as therapeutic agents based on photothermal therapies with near infrared (NIR) laser irradiation. The peculiar physical properties of colloidal gold in the rod-shaped ("nanorod") form allow the application of GNR nanostructures for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, using a single dosage system. Gold nanorods can function as "nanoantennas", having the capability to absorb energy when irradiated with a laser light at defined wavelenghts, and return it as thermal energy to the surrounding environment. These combined applications are currently identified as "Theranostics", and represent one of the most promising areas in biomedical nanotechnology.

The overall objective of the project is to test the feasibility of new colloidal systems containing GNR, suitably modified to specifically target precancerous or cancerous cells and limit their invasivity. We aim to demonstrate experimentally the diagnostic potential of these novel, targeted GNR-colloidal structures for early diagnosis of cancerous lesions, and determine, based on the results, the feasibility of utilizing them for therapies in combination with NIR irradiation.

The project will transfer and develop an innovative protocol of synthesis and preparation of GNR nanoparticles by a double-phase transfer procedure. The preparation of biocompatible GNR nanoparticles, stable in aqueous media at physiological conditions can facilitate formulation and administration of such systems.

Targeted nanosystems are being designed to deliver the maximum amount of GNR to target cells, either by the systemic route, or by topical applications onto mucosal side-originated tumors. In fact, many cancers of epithelial origin originate in the cell mucosal side, and the topical administration of GNR structures could allow very early detection of pathogenic cells and a subsequent highly effective localized treatments with minimal invasiveness, given the penetrability of the NIR laser light.

The feasibility phase of the project, focused on the applicability of targeted GNR-colloidal systems for the detection and treatment of solid tumor models, has been completed in July 2013. Initial results demonstrated the feasibility of incorporating GNRs into Polymeric NanoParticles, and modifying their surface with targetting moieties. Surface modifications significantly affected GNR-PNPs uptake by different cancer cell lines, (e.g. primary ovary cancer, colon-rectal cancer, lung cancer), without inducing toxicity. State-of-the-art imaging techniques, such as Photoacoustic Imaging, are applicable for the detection of GNR-PNPs in vivo. Initial results evidenced intratumoral uptake of circulating GNR-Nanoparticles, confirming their potential for applications in cancer diagnostics and therapy.



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