Bin Li and Lucas A. Lane have published a paper discussing the use of gold nanoparticles to investigate the effectiveness of nanomedicine.
The paper has been published in WIREs Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology and contributes to the scientific discussion about the design and the effectiveness of nanomedicine and how to improve the level of care for patients.
What developments are needed in nanomedicine?
While nanomedicine has made a significant contributed to therapeutics, a current issue which needs to be addressed is that nanoparticles deliver a low efficiency. The paper notes that only 1% of an injected dose reaches the target tissues due to biological obstacles.
The biological obstacles limiting the effectiveness of nanomedicine include:
- Clearance from the circulation by organs of the reticuloendothelial system (RES)
- Tumour uptake and penetration
- Cellular internalisation. and
- Subsequent elimination from the body
Scientists need to understand the link between the physical and chemical properties of nanoparticles and the biological obstacles which limit their efficiency in order to improve nanomedicine and advance therapeutics for diseases such as cancer.
Why are gold nanoparticles used?
The paper identifies the scientific need to establish how the biological outcomes of nanoparticles are affected by chemical and biological parameters. Gold nanoparticles are used as a system to establish this because:
- Scientists can synthetically control the dimensions and chemistry of gold nanoparticles with a high level of precision
- Gold nanoparticles have properties which allow them to be detected and measured in tissues and cells with sensitivity, because they do not occur naturally in the body
- Many shapes can be achieved with gold nanoparticles, including spheres
- Gold allows for the tracking of particles in biological systems
For these reasons, gold nanoparticles are an ideal way to study the design of nanomedicine to improve its use in in vivo imaging and therapy.
How does the study of gold nanoparticles impact the progress of nanomedicine?
Li and Lane wrote: “Studies using gold nanoparticles probing how size, shape, and surface chemistry changes their biological behaviours has provided significant gains to our understanding of the obstacles to nanomedicine and has revealed potential methods to overcome them.’
“[With] small gold nanoparticles the size threshold for renal clearance could be assessed with more accuracy.”
Li and Lane concluded that it is likely that gold nanoparticles will still be used as model systems due to their properties which allow an accurate assessment of biological obstacles in nanomedicine. However, they note that researchers are developing nanoparticles made of organic materials to be used in in vivo studies and emulate gold nanoparticles to further the advancement of nanomedicine in therapeutics.