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Graphene Oxide Delivered Through The Skin Into Tumors

A biopolymer escorts graphene oxide nanoparticles through the skin and into melanoma cells

by Journal News and Community
January 27, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 4

Confocal microscope image of graphene oxide nanoparticles (red) inside melanoma cells. Structure is of hyaluronic acid.
Credit: ACS Nano
This confocal microscope image shows graphene oxide nanoparticles conjugated with hyaluronic acid (red) inside melanoma cells (blue).

By tagging graphene oxide nanoparticles with the common biopolymer hyaluronic acid, researchers have been able to deliver the nanoparticles through the skin and into melanoma tumors in mice. Irradiating the impregnated tumors with near-infrared light causes the nanoparticles to generate heat that destroys the cancer cells. As a potential skin cancer therapy, delivering graphene oxide topically, as opposed to intravenously, would cause fewer side effects, says Sei Kwang Hahn of Pohang University of Science & Technology, in South Korea (ACS Nano 2014, DOI: 10.1021/nn405383a). After conjugating the nanoparticles with hyaluronic acid, which is found naturally in the skin and is often used in skin care products, Hahn and his colleagues applied a solution of the material onto the skin of mice implanted with two melanoma tumors, one on each of their flanks. The researchers irradiated one side of the animals with near-IR light for 10 minutes. They found that the tumors were completely destroyed only on the irradiated side and did not grow back. In mice treated with a solution containing only graphene oxide nanoparticles, the tumors did not shrink, with or without irradiation.


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