Nov 25, 2013
Nanographene oxide destroys tumours
Graphene oxide could be used as a hyperthermia agent in anticancer therapies thanks to its ability to absorb light in the near-infrared range. This property, combined with its small size and 2D nature, makes it unique when compared with other nanoparticles. Nevertheless, researchers need to evaluate the type of toxicity and cell damage produced by the hyperthermia treatment to better understand the process, and to develop improved future treatments based on these nanovectors.
Localized hyperthermia involves using heat (temperatures above 43 °C) to clinically treat solid tumours as it boosts the cytotoxic effects of chemotherapy or radiotherapy and also increases the permeability of tumour cells to drugs. It works because cancer cells are more sensitive to heat than healthy ones.
A multidisciplinary team, which includes researchers from the Universidade de Aveiro in Portugal and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain, studied in vitro laser dosage and cell irradiation exposure time. The researchers found that cell culture temperature (after irradiating cells that had taken up graphene oxide) increases preferentially with laser power rather than with exposure time. Moreover, when the laser power is increased, cell necrosis leads to an increase of cytokine release to the surrounding medium.
Controlling the type of cell damage provoked by the graphene oxides nanosheets and their hyperthermia temperature means that the researchers might be able to choose the type of cell death that occurs (for example, apoptosis or necrosis), and so tailor the possible immune response of the cells.
More information about the research can be found in the journal Nanotechnology (in press).
About the author
Dr. Mercedes Vila is a principal investigator at the Nanotechnology Research Division (NRD-TEMA), Universidade de Aveiro in Portugal. With a background in Materials Physics, her current research interests focus on the design, synthesis and application of carbon nanosystems for cancer therapies and bioceramic materials for bone tissue engineering.