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Analytical Chemistry

Nanoparticles’ Nuclear Handshake Imaged

ACS Meeting News: Method provides way to directly observe morphology changes in cancer cell nuclei

by Mitch Jacoby
April 2, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 14

Credit: Teri Odom
Drug-loaded nanoparticles can travel to cancer-cell nuclei and cause deep, intruding folds into the nucleoplasm.
Credit: Teri Odom

Nanoscale interactions between cancer cell nuclei and drug-loaded nanoparticles can be imaged directly by an analytical method that may provide insights that advance nucleus-targeted cancer therapies, a Northwestern University team reported. The work may also lead to new nanoparticle-based drug delivery strategies to treat other diseases. Numerous studies have shown that nanoparticles can serve as drug delivery vehicles, imaging contrast probes, and therapeutic agents. The new work, which was conducted by Duncan Hieu M. Dam, Jung Heon Lee, Teri W. Odom, and coworkers, demonstrates that nano­particles can also be used to target, alter, and image cancer cell nuclei (ACS Nano, DOI: 10.1021/nn300296p). The researchers prepared gold nano­stars hybridized with a DNA fragment that binds specifically to a cell-nucleus protein known as nucleolin. By using a microscopy method, they showed that the nucleus-seeking particles readily migrate to cell nuclei and penetrate the nuclear envelope, causing deep, intruding folds into the nucleoplasm. They found that these morphology changes were intensified by light-triggered release of the the DNA fragment from the nanoparticles. They also showed that the intensity of these changes correlates with increases in cellular suicide and decreased cell viability.

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