Better cancer treatment and vaccines through gold nanoparticles

Gold nanoparticles could contribute to increased efficiency in the development of vaccines and drugs that target B cells, a new study concludes.

A shielded drug transmission to B cells observed

Gold nanoparticles could contribute to increased efficiency in the development of vaccines and drugs that target B cells, a new study concludes.

Although the use of nanoparticles in the medical environment has increased steadily over the last 20 years, there are still doubts on the part of physicians and scientists about their safety and their effects on the immune system. Since previous studies have already shown that the human body tolerates gold particles well and the metal is easy to influence, researchers have investigated for the first time how nanoparticles interact with B lymphocytes.

Professor Carole Bourquin of the University of Geneva explained that "nanoparticles can be used as protective bodies for vaccines or other medicines to navigate the substances to the desired destination”, and this can be achieved without damaging cells.

The effects of gold nanoparticles on B cells

In the study, Bourquin and her colleagues investigated interactions between different types of gold nanoparticles and isolated B lymphocytes. In experiments, they exposed cells to different particle types and monitored activation markers on the surfaces of B cells.

The research team was unable to identify any negative side effects for any of the gold nanoparticle types. However, the nanoparticles differed in their ability to induce an immune reaction. The researchers discovered that their surface and shape had a decisive influence on the interactions with the B cells.

Unsheathed spherical gold nanoparticles turned out to be unsuitable because they tended to form lumps. Similarly, rod-shaped gold nanoparticles were unusable as they reduced the immune response. The scientists suspected that this process was due to their weight. Polymer-encapsulated spherical gold particles, on the other hand, showed the best results as they were stable and did not interfere with the function of the B cells.

Potential for drug development and use

The researchers regard the gold nanoparticles as an opportunity to deliver drugs to B cells in a protected way. Thus, the gold nanoparticle method could significantly reduce the doses of drugs and their side effects, as they are small enough to cross the blood-brain barrier and can re-emit absorbed light in the form of heat.

In the eyes of researchers, gold nanoparticles could thus become ideal tools in precision therapies against cancer. Doctors could send the particles into tumors and selectively destroy cancer cells with heat. Professor Bourquin notes: "Since the use of nanoparticles in medicine still needs clear guidelines, our research results could be particularly useful for future research."

Polymer-Coated Gold Nanospheres Do Not Impair the Innate Immune Function of Human B Lymphocytes in Vitro.
Sandra Hočevar, Ana Milošević, Laura Rodriguez-Lorenzo, Liliane Ackermann-Hirschi, Ines Mottas, Alke Petri-Fink, Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser, Carole Bourquin, Martin James David Clift, Martin James Clift
ACS Nano20191366790-6800
Publication Date: May 22, 2019