A groundbreaking development in cancer treatment has emerged as researchers explore the use of nanoparticles to combat this formidable disease. These nanoparticles, when strategically introduced into or near cancer cells, have the potential to revolutionize cancer therapy by using light to eradicate cancerous cells.

The concept is relatively straightforward: nanoparticles are delivered into the vicinity of cancer cells, and when exposed to light, they absorb the energy and release it as heat, effectively killing the cancer cells. While the underlying mechanism is understood, the challenge lies in designing nanoparticles that possess optimal light-absorbing and heat-emitting properties while remaining small enough to infiltrate cancer cells.

A team of researchers, led by Prof. Jaya Prakash from the Department of Instrumentation and Applied Physics at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru, has taken a significant step forward in this direction. They have developed a hybrid nanoparticle composed of gold and copper sulphide for precisely this purpose. Copper sulphide serves as a targeting agent for cancer cells, while gold functions as the destructive element when illuminated by light.

One of the key challenges was creating nanoparticles small enough to penetrate cancer cells effectively. To overcome this hurdle, the researchers employed a novel “reduction” method. They used Tannic acid and sodium citrate to generate gold nanoseeds, which were then deposited onto a copper sulphide surface, resulting in nanoparticles measuring a mere 8 nanometers in size.

The small size of these nanoparticles not only enhances their ability to enter cancer cells but also raises the possibility that they can be naturally eliminated from the human body without significant accumulation. However, extensive studies are needed to ensure their safety for internal use.

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In laboratory experiments, the researchers tested these nanoparticles on lung cancer and cervical cancer cell lines with promising results. The next step in their journey involves advancing their findings towards clinical development, holding the potential to revolutionize cancer treatment as we know it.