Study data published in PNAS suggest that hybrid gold-silica nanoparticles make it possible to combine two forms of tumour treatment and three imaging techniques, Science Daily reported.
Specifically, MRI, near-infrared fluorescence and photoacoustic ultrasound imaging along with chemotherapy and photothermal therapy were coupled within a sphere measuring 150 nanometers in diameter, according to the news source.
By infusing porous silica shells with gold precursors, researchers created gold quantum dots in the pores of the shell and larger gold nanoparticles in the central cavity.
Further, hydrophobic gold incorporated in the silica sphere increased its storage capacity for doxorubicin.
The researchers reportedly believe that the proportion of molecules that would reach their target would jump from 5 percent to 95 percent, in comparison to drug carriers currently on the market.
When excited by an infrared laser, the particles containing the gold quantum dots emit infrared fluorescence, and enough heat to kill cancerous cells, which made it possible to reduce tumour mass in mice by 55 percent after a single treatment.