The group studied the photothermal ablation of CNTs targeted to the Her2 marker present on breast tumor cells. The figure shows the direct detection of targeted CNTs within vesicles inside cells by confocal scanning Raman microscopy. The results of ablation studies suggest that when the CNTs are inside cells, a larger percentage of the cells are killed following exposure to NIR light than when the CNTs remain on the cell surface. Moreover, when a mixed culture of Her2-positive and Her2-negative cells was treated with the Her2-targeted CNTs, primarily the Her2-positive cells were killed.

Selective and non-invasive

This work suggests that it may be possible to selectively eliminate tumor cells in patients with minimal injury to normal cells and that uptake of targeted CNTs by cells might be advantageous. The long-term objective of the project is to develop a non-invasive local treatment for breast tumors to help prevent the surgery-induced escape of tumor cells into the surrounding blood and lymph tissue.

The researchers presented their work in the journal Nanotechnology.