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Multifunctional gold nanoparticles for therapeutic applications

Well-designed gold nanoparticles in the body could make a difference in the fight against breast cancer or neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease.
Multifunctional gold nanoparticles for therapeutic applications
Proteins are the building blocks of all living cells and are important for all processes that occur in the body. Their function often depends on the type of form they take. Targeting and altering protein form using nanoparticles enables proteins to recognise cancer cells and penetrate them. This can lead to new therapeutic treatments.

In the EU-funded project NANOGOLD4PARKINSONS (Targeted brain delivery of Nrf-2 gene and α-synuclein binding peptide using functionalised gold nanoparticles for disease-modifying therapy of Parkinson's disease), scientists produced highly uniform gold nanoparticles functionalised with different peptide-based and LAT-1 targeting compounds. Functionalised gold nanoparticles and proteins together can selectively target breast cancer cells, delivering chemotherapy to the cancer cells alone.

Scientists successfully demonstrated a non-invasive method that selectively targets and kills breast cancer cells without inducing toxicity in other tissues. The team synthesised nanogold functionalised with a LAT-1 ligand and then blasted the target area with infrared laser pulses, effectively killing MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. This treatment effectively sensitised the breast cancer cells to conventional chemotherapy drugs including docetaxel and cisplatin.

Overcoming the difficulty of delivering small amounts of therapeutic agents to specific regions of the brain presents a major challenge to treatment of most brain disorders. Amino acid transporter LAT-1 could enable proteins such as Nrf-2 and α-synuclein aggregation inhibitors and drugs to more easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Preliminary efforts have shown an increase in uptake of LAT-1 functionalised AuNPs by primary brain endothelial cells of rats with no effect on cell viability.

If future in vitro experiments prove the ability of functionalised nanoparticles to be successfully delivered across the blood-brain barrier via the LAT-1, new avenues would open up for treating Parkinson's or Alzheimer's diseases. Treating with functionalised nanogold can also decrease healthcare costs and improve quality of life for people living with such serious diseases.

Related information


Life Sciences


Gold nanoparticles, breast cancer, Parkinson's, NANOGOLD4PARKINSONS, LAT-1
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