Cancer therapy based on the utilization of metal nanoparticles

Noble metallic nanoparticles have received extensive attention during the past decades due to their many potential applications in field (catalysis, biomedicine, cancer diagnostic, drug delivery, anticancer drugs…). The encapsulation of MNPs into biologically friendly water soluble polymer with an extremely low cytotoxicity is a prerequisite for the development of biomedical applications in nanomedicine.

We are investigating the possibility of using metal nanoparticles for cancer therapy. Our recent investigations have shown that cancer cells are sensitive to the metal nanoparticles we are synthesizing and more particularly cobalt metal nanoparticles. We are presently focusing our investigations on surfactant free metal nanoparticles (Ag, Co, Cu) that enable their direct functionalization or encapsulation. MTT assay toxicity tests have shown that without functionalization, these metal nanoparticles exhibit higher toxicity against cancer cells than healthy human cells. However, their encapsulation into polymer with an extremely low cytotoxicity is a prerequisite for the development of biomedical application in nanomedicine.

We recently study the interaction of these metallic nanomaterials and cancer cells / human cells using Live Raman spectroscopy. We observed a fast uptake of the cobalt nanomaterials by cancer cells inducing a rapid apoptosis of the cancer cells (PPC-1, MCF7 and HCT116 cancer cells). Similar behavior was observed with dental pulp mesenchymal stem cells (DPSC), but cell death was slower. We are now investigating how to tune the toxicity of these metal nanoparticles to develop new treatments.

List of relevant publications:

Research project partially funded by the Estonian Centre of Excellence 2015 EQUiTANT (TK134).