Cancer-selective, single agent chemoradiosensitising gold nanoparticles

Grellet, Sophie; Tzelepi, Konstantina; Roskamp, Meike; Williams, Phil; Sharif, Aquila; Slade-Carter, Richard; Goldie, Peter; Whilde, Nicky; Smialek, Malgorzata A.; Mason, Nigel J. and Golding, Jon P. (2017). Cancer-selective, single agent chemoradiosensitising gold nanoparticles. PLoS ONE, 12(7), article no. e0181103.



Two nanometre gold nanoparticles (AuNPs), bearing sugar moieties and/or thiol-polyethylene glycol-amine (PEG-amine), were synthesised and evaluated for their in vitro toxicity and ability to radiosensitise cells with 220 kV and 6 MV X-rays, using four cell lines representing normal and cancerous skin and breast tissues. Acute 3 h exposure of cells to AuNPs, bearing PEG-amine only or a 50:50 ratio of alpha-galactose derivative and PEG-amine resulted in selective uptake and toxicity towards cancer cells at unprecedentedly low nanomolar concentrations. Chemotoxicity was prevented by co-administration of N-acetyl cysteine antioxidant, or partially prevented by the caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK. In addition to their intrinsic cancer-selective chemotoxicity, these AuNPs acted as radiosensitisers in combination with 220 kV or 6 MV X-rays. The ability of AuNPs bearing simple ligands to act as cancer-selective chemoradiosensitisers at low concentrations is a novel discovery that holds great promise in developing low-cost cancer nanotherapeutics.

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