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Team Designs Gold Nanoparticles to Deliver Multiple Drugs

New technique might better control treatment of diseases like cancer, AIDS

FRIDAY, Jan. 9, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a drug-delivery system using gold nanoparticles that, when exposed to infrared light, can release multiple drugs attached to their surfaces.

The new technique, recently described in the journal ACS Nano, could one day provide more control of diseases commonly treated with more than one drug, according to the researchers. "With a lot of diseases, especially cancer and AIDS, you get a synergistic effect with more than one drug," study senior author Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli, an assistant professor of biological and mechanical engineering, said in an MIT news release.

The chief advantage of the new system is that it can be controlled externally, potentially delivering up to three or four drugs, the team reported. Current drug-delivery devices exist that can release two drugs, but the timing of their release must be built into the device and cannot be controlled from outside the body.

Exposed to infrared light, the gold nanoparticles melt, releasing drug payloads attached to their surfaces. The researchers built two different shapes of nanoparticles, called "nanobones" and "nanocapsules." Nanobones melt at light wavelengths of 1,100 nanometers, nanocapsules at 800 nanometers, they said.

"Just by controlling the infrared wavelength, we can choose the release time for each drug," study author Andy Wijaya, a graduate student in chemical engineering, said in the news release.

More information

To learn more about nanotechnology products, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

SOURCE: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, news release, Dec. 30, 2008
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