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Gold Nanoparticles Could be a Safe, Effective Option to Treat Prostate Cancer

According to a new study performed at the Icahn School of Medicine, biocompatible gold nanoparticles developed to transform near-infrared light into heat can safely and effectively remove low- to intermediate-grade cancer cells in the prostate gland.

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The study has been reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This innovative treatment could provide a targeted treatment option for patients suffering from prostate cancer and preserve vital structures within the prostate. This can thus prevent side effects related to whole-gland treatments, like prostatectomies.

In the United States, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of deaths in men. It has been estimated that 11% of men will be diagnosed with this disease in their lifespan. Risks of erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence are associated with resection or other whole-gland treatment of the prostate. But, thanks to technological developments, clinicians have options for focal therapies that carry fewer complications.

In this work, scientists tested the efficacy of AuroLase® Therapy, a type of treatment developed by medical device company Nanospectra Biosciences. The treatment is based on a technology developed by chemist and engineer Naomi Halas, PhD, from Rice University, and bioengineer Jennifer West, PhD, from Duke University.

Ardeshir Rastinehad, DO, is the principal investigator and lead author of the study. He is also the Associate Professor of Urology and Radiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. In association with Philips Healthcare, Rastinehad developed the method employed in the clinical trial to target and treat cancer cells in the prostate through a custom-made MR US fusion guided platform.

AuroLase® Therapy utilizes gold-silica nanoshells (GSNs) invented by Dr Halas. GSNs are particles made up of a silica core as well as a gold shell measuring 150 nm in diameter. AuroShells® are developed to take in energy from near-infrared light and transform it into heat. This results in selective hyperthermic cell death, leaving the neighboring non-tumorous tissue unaffected.

The treatment was successfully shown in previous animal models and cell studies. Post-treatment, the particles are removed via the liver, while a few are sequestered in the spleen and liver. No known side effects were observed.

GSN infusion was given to 16 men aged 58 to 79 suffering from low- to intermediate-grade prostate cancer (Gleason score of 4+3). A targeted biopsy technique, known as magnetic resonance-ultrasound fusion imaging, was used to diagnose and treat all the patients at The Mount Sinai Hospital. The technique utilizes MRI technology to remove a sample of tissue directly from the tumor.

GSN infusion and high-precision laser ablation were performed on patients. Next, an MRI of the prostate was performed 48–72 hours post the procedure, followed by MRI-targeted fusion biopsies at 3 and 12 months, and finally, a standard biopsy at 12 months. After several hours of monitoring, patients were discharged on the same day the procedure was performed.

With GSN-mediated focal laser ablation, 87.5% of lesions were successfully treated at one year of follow-up. The researchers’ aim was to find a way to remove the cancer cells during the biopsy.

Gold-silica nanoshells infusion allows for a focused therapy that treats the cancer, while sparing the rest of the prostate, thus preserving a patient’s quality of life by reducing unwanted side effects, which could include erectile dysfunction and/or the leakage of urine.

Dr Ardeshir Rastinehad, DO, Associate Professor of Urology and Radiology, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai

Mount Sinai’s interventional urology program is research-driven and offers patients minimally invasive treatment therapies that improve quality of life,” stated Ash Tewari, MBBS, MCh, Chair of the Department of Urology at the Mount Sinai Health System and the Kyung Hyun Kim, MD Professor of Urology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Tewari continued, “Dr Rastinehad’s gold nanoparticle research shows that patients are not only benefiting from this treatment, but also experiencing minimal side effects.”

Gold nanoshells were invented by Dr Halas, Rice University’s Stanley C. Moore Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of Rice’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics.

Dr West, the Fitzpatrick Family University Professor of Engineering at Duke University, and Dr Halas co-invented the nanoshell-based therapy for photothermal ablation of cancer. Nanospectra Biosciences licensed the technique from Rice University.

Scientists from Duke University, Rice University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Texas Health Science Center took part in the research. Dr Rastinehad is a consultant for Nanospectra Biosciences. The study was funded by Nanospectra Biosciences.

Gold Nanoparticles

(Video credit: Mount Sinai Health System)


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