Our research partners at ProChimia have recently been involved in a breakthrough paper where nanoparticles have selectively killed cancer cells in vitro without using any toxic anti-cancer agents.
The paper, found here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41565-020-0643-3.epdf explores the behavior of gold nanoparticles with a core size of ~5 nm, covered in a combination of positively and negatively charged ligands with a precisely tunable ratio.
Essentially, the cancer cells will take up the nanoparticles into their lysosomes, and there they will assemble into larger crystals (~50-100 nm) that cannot be cleared by their own lysosomal pathways, leading to the death of the cancer cells. The particles will aggregate far less in healthy tissue and are expected to be cleared by the cells’ natural defense system (via exocytosis). The research team is now moving towards in vivo studies.
The team at ProChimia provided the charged ligands which were used to create the mixed-charge nanoparticles in the research, and are available to provide similar services to any other researchers interested in nanoparticle functionalization.