Treating cancer by using Gold nanoparticle and photo thermal

7Gold Nanoparticles and Photo Thermal Therapy in Treading Cancer

Gold Nanoparticles and Photo Thermal Therapy in Treading Cancer

Gold Nanoparticles and Photo Thermal Therapy in Treading Cancer


One of the popular subjects in today’s field of Nano-medicine is possibility of using gold nanoparticles in detecting and treating cancer. Although in its early stages, scientists have proved that gold nanoparticles can easily attach themselves on cancerous cells found in humans and destroy them using photo thermal therapy or placing an ultraviolent light on the cells. This breakthrough has only been conducted in mice with human cancerous cells with clinical trials expected to come in coming years. Nonetheless, the use of gold nanoparticles has numerous risks and complications such as tissue damage due to increased radiation. Overall, this new discovery will surely shape the future of Nano-medicine and cancer treatment in the future. The following paper focuses on discussing on how gold nanoparticles work through photo thermal therapy as well as their risks and complications.

Gold Nanoparticles and Photo Thermal Therapy

According to Huang, X, & El-Sayed (2010, p. 13), gold nanoparticles possess unique optical attributes that is found in plasmonic particles that enables robust electromagnetic fields of such particles. These properties improve the radioactive properties such as scattering and absorption (Li & Gu, 2010). Cancer has proved to be a big medical issue especially when it comes to treatment. Medical professionals in most severe cases can only do much by removing all the cancerous cells or tissues from a patient through surgery. Nonetheless, any left cancer cells can easily replicate throughout the body. The photo thermal therapy is an alternative to this problem.

The therapy works by injecting gold nanoparticles in the blood stream that are firstly covered with resistant protein antibodies. According to Piktel et al. (2016), gold nanoparticles are covered in such proteins to ensure that they are not detected as foreign particles by the immune system as well as ensure that the gold particles only attach themselves to malignant cells. This ensures that the gold particles can concentrate inside and around cancerous cells accurately and easily. The process then continues by exposing the nanoparticles to ultraviolent light that can travel through tissue. This in turn causes the gold nanoparticles to increase their radiation and leading to high temperatures that rip apart surrounding cancerous cells to total destruction (Her, et al. 2015). The unique features of gold nanoparticles enable them to absorb and distribute electromagnetic radiation powerfully than other methods of radioactive treatment. Koo et al. (2016), tested the human cancerous cell carcinoma on mice using gold nanoparticles and ultra-short infrared pulses. The researchers concluded that all the mice tested survived as all the cancer cells were destroyed without any damage or temperature rises in normal body cells. Again, a study by El-Sayed et al. (2006, p. 134), found that using the gold nanoparticles could destroy carcinoma cancer cells with half the energy used in most chemo or radio therapy treatments. This proves how researchers in the field of gold nanoparticles and cancer treatment have made important and interesting discoveries.

Gold particles have illustrated to possess unique properties in terms of radiation. These properties have shown that they require less energy to enhance radiation that in turn helps to destroy cancer cells. These properties can also be enhanced by improving the delivery method of gold nanoparticles can easily enhance their ability to destroy cancer cells. A research by Antosh et al. (2015) concluded that the use of pH Low-Insertion Peptide (pHLIP) to attach gold particles on cancer cells was more effective in their consequent radioactive destruction. Gold nanoparticles can also reach deeply rooted tumors or highly evolving cancer tissues, thus more effective theoretically (Iancu, 2013, p. 55). Overall, there is a future in gold nanoparticles and photo thermal therapy to treat cancer, but there is still more research and testing needed.

Risks and Complications

Research on gold nanoparticles and photo thermal therapy to treat cancer is still in its early stages and is expected to have some risks and complications. According to Paddock (2015), this is just a proof of concept. Firstly there are numerous risks associated to use of gold nanoparticles. This is because their effectiveness is dependent on their size, shape, and surface. These features can easily determine how the nanoparticles behave inside the body. This is mainly concerned with the delivery method of gold nanoparticles to cancerous cells. Moreover, gold nanoparticles are highly radioactive meaning that exposing them to radioactive light can increase their temperatures, thus destroying cancer cells as well as other adjacent tissues or cells (Service, 2016). This may have a negative impact on patients. In addition, high amount of exposure or energy from radioactive light can intensify the risks of damaging adjacent body cells and tissue. Therefore, there is a risk in determining the amount of energy to use when working with gold nanoparticles. Another risk is associated with the method of delivery. Gold nanoparticles can easily attach themselves to any cell in the body, but use immune proteins to disguise as normal cells that attract acidic-seeking cells such as cancer cells (Ciappellano, et al. 2016). This implies that the right choice of delivery method is important to determine the effectiveness of gold nanoparticles finding cancer cells.

One of the major complications surrounding gold nanoparticles is that current tests have only been conducted on animals (Pedrosa, et al. 2015). No research has been conducted humans, thus understanding the effects of gold nanoparticles on humans and as a possible treatment cancer are still not proven (Senut, et al. 2016). Moreover, most of the research conducted has not yet identified the long-term effects of gold nanoparticles that are left in the body after destroying cancer cells. Current research has only concluded that there are no acute toxic effects on most trials using gold nanoparticles. However, research by Kennedy et al. (2011), observed mild inflammatory cases on tissues where gold nanoparticles remained in mice after remaining in their body for 6 months after destroying cancer cells. Although they remain mild and inconclusive, there is still much to do in deterring possible side effects and risks in humans.


In conclusion, gold nanoparticles and photo thermal therapy are a breakthrough in the field on Nano-medicine and Nano-technology. Gold nanoparticles have unique features that enable them to radiate powerfully when exposed to less radioactive energy enabling it to destroy cancer cells. Research on animals has proved that gold nanoparticles can destroy cancer cells effectively. Nevertheless, the lack of human tests is a big complication on their future application to treat cancer. More research is needed to further understand the compatibility and future of this technology.


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