Tailoring the bio-nano interface for improved outcome in cancer therapy

Recent developments in nanotechnology has provided new tools for cancer therapy and diagnosis. Gold nanoparticles (GNPs) are being used as radiation dose enhancers and anticancer drug carriers in cancer therapy. Dr. Chithrani has done quite interesting fundamental research towards improving the bio-nano interface using GNPs as model nanoparticle system. She uses the outcome of fundamental research to improve GNP-mediated radiation dose enhancement and drug delivery. She has shown that size, shape, and surface properties of NPs can play a major role in their uptake and transport within cells and tissues. For example, NPs of diameter 50 have the highest uptake at monolayer cell level while smaller NPs (15-120 nm) are better at tissue level. The ultimate goal of NP-based delivery systems is to penetrate through the tumor tissue once they leave the blood vessels. Hence, she has developed protocols to improve the uptake of smaller NPs both at monolayer and multi-layer (tissue-like) level. In chemotherapy, smart delivery of highly toxic anticancer drugs through packaging using GNPs reduces the side effects and improve the quality and care of cancer patients. Use of NPs allows three-fold increase in cell death vs free drug. In radiation therapy, GNPs can be used as radiation dose enhancers. There was a three-fold increase in radiation dose enhancement in cells with NPs targeted into the nucleus. She believes that GNPs can be incorporated to existing cancer therapy treatment protocols for better outcome in the near future.

devika_chithraniDr. Devika Chithrani is an Assistant Professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Victoria. Her research program is designed to improve the understanding of the bio-nano interface. Better knowledge of the nano-bio interface would lead to better tools for diagnostic imaging and therapy. As a step forward in this direction, gold nanoparticles are being used as a model platform for understanding how size, shape, and surface properties of nanoparticles (NPs) affect their intracellular fate. These fundamental studies will facilitate building of better NP-based platforms for improved results in the future cancer care of patients. Her program also involves the use of gold nanostructures as a versatile platform for integration of many therapeutic options towards optimizing combinational therapy platform in the battle against cancer. However, these platforms are still at the initial stage of development and much more research is required before they can be applied in clinical applications.