Medical Devices

Laser heated nanoparticles that destroy tumors could be innovative approach to lung cancer

A therapeutic diagnostics company and Cancer Treatment Centers of America are embarking on a pilot study of an innovative approach to get rid of tumors using lasers and nanoparticles. It is the first time the technology is being used in the US to treat lung cancer.

The investigational study by the Philadelphia-based cancer treatment provider, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will test NanoSpectra Biosciences’ AuroLase Therapy. Here’s how it works. Nanoparticles are injected into the bloodstream. The AuroShell Particles, as the nanoparticles are known, are absorbed by the cancer cells but not healthy cells, according to a company statement.

The AuroShells are heated after they are absorbed by the tumors, 12-24 hours after they are injected. The heat destroys the tumor but not the healthy tissue, according to the statement. Because the infrared light can pass through human tissue, the nanoparticles can convert the light into heat and can be zapped despite being absorbed by the cancer cells. The Texas-based company’s therapy is also being studied for use as an adjunct treatment with radiation and chemotherapy because it only affects the tumor, according to the company’s statement. The technology has also been used to treat head and neck cancer and prostate cancer.

Dr. Mark Lund, CTCA director of interventional pulmonology, bronchoscopy and the Advanced Center for Lung and Thoracic Oncology, said he would be doing the procedure on 10 patients in its Philadelphia center. They will be monitored for a few months and if a review board clears it, an additional 25 patients will undergo the procedure at centers in other parts of the country.


Nanotechnology for cancer treatment has come into its own in the past 10 years, Lund said in a phone interview with MedCity News. The reason is that it’s unique. “You can literally make micromachines using different shaped nanoparticles  — some are valves, some are spheres, some are tubes.”

Among some other innovative ways nanoparticles are being used to treat cancer are:

  • Nanojackets The nanotechnology delivery system using a toxic molecule siRNA to go after cancer proteins, infiltrating breast cancer cells and destroying them. The technology is under development by Keystone Nano.
  • Radiation therapy Nanobiotix’s lead nanoXray therapeutic, NBTXR3, is injected into the lung cancer tumor or the region of it and activated by radiation therapy. The nanoparticles are designed to strategically destroy tumors in soft tissue sarcoma patients by accumulating in cancer cells and releasing electrons that produce free radicals to counteract the cancer cells, enhancing the effectiveness of radiation therapy within tumor cells.
  • Gold nanoparticles CytImmune is using a tumor-killing agent bound to the surface of colloidal gold nanoparticles to treat solid tumors in pancreatic, ovarian and breast cancers, melanoma and soft tissue sarcomas in phase 2 studies.

Dr. Mark Lund, Director of Interventional Pulmonology, Bronchoscopy & ICU and the Advanced Center for Lung and Thoracic Oncology

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