Issue Date: September 3, 2007
Gold Nanoparticles Carry Paclitaxel
One day, nanoparticles studded with a powerful therapeutic drug might be used to deliver that drug to disease sites in the body. But before that can happen, scientists need to develop nanoparticle-drug entities that are sufficiently small and well-defined to allow them to be fully characterized and their biological activity to be accurately measured. A significant step in that direction has now been reported by chemist Eugene R. Zubarev's group at Rice University. The researchers have prepared uniform 2-nm gold nanoparticles that are covalently functionalized with the cancer drug paclitaxel (J. Am. Chem. Soc., DOI: 10.1021/ja075181k). These are by far the smallest nanoparticles to be conjugated with a therapeutic drug, according to Zubarev. About 67% of the weight of the nanoparticles is due to their organic cargo-another record, he says. Calculations and measurements suggest that each nanoparticle has about 70 paclitaxel molecules attached to it. This voluminous organic shell renders the particles soluble in organic solvents and allows the chemical structure of the attached molecules to be definitively confirmed by NMR spectroscopy.
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