Silver Particles Carry Drugs to Tumors

In its monthly industry release, The Silver Institute reported once again new applications of silver in products across several industries, in particular health. The Silver Institute has written extensively how silver has helped breakthrough improvements in product development and industries; read previous articles herehere, here, and here.

Piggybacking drugs on silver particles that pierce tumor cells and offload the chemicals is not a new idea, but a uniquely designed nanoparticle offers improvements over current techniques, according to researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

For instance, if the drug/nanoparticle bullet does not reach the intended tumor, an etching technique on the nanoparticle will disassemble if it stays outside living cell walls. The method leaves behind only the intact nanoparticles and the drug which now has been broken down and made inert by biocompatible chemicals contained on the bullet. Doctors can then ‘see’ the nanoparticles through imaging techniques using fluorescent dyes and discover if they have reached their target or not.

This method for removing nanoparticles unable to penetrate target cells is unique, said Gary Braun, a postdoctoral associate in the Ruoslahti Lab in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB) and at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. “By focusing on the nanoparticles that actually got into cells, we can then understand which cells were targeted and study the tissue transport pathways in more detail. It also minimizes the off-target toxicity by breaking down the excess nanoparticles so they can then be cleared through the kidneys.”

“These new nanoparticles have some remarkable properties that have already proven useful as a tool in our work that relates to targeted drug delivery into tumors,” said Lab Director Erkki Ruoslahti, adjunct distinguished professor in UCSB’s Center for Nanomedicine and MCDB department and at Sanford-Burnham. “They also have potential applications in combating infections. Dangerous infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to all antibiotics are getting more common, and new approaches to deal with this problem are desperately needed. Silver is a locally- used antibacterial agent and our targeting technology may make it possible to use silver nanoparticles in treating infections anywhere in the body.”

Peptide-coated silver nanoparticles moving toward and being ‘eaten’ by a prostate cancer cell (green), watch the video below.

Prostate Cancer Cell from UC Santa Barbara on Vimeo.


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