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Golden nanotubes used as imaging agent to detect tumor cells, map sentinel lymph node

(ed. note - this article is dense but interesting. Basically researchers have made progress using gold, rather than the usual carbon, to build nanotubes. The gold nanotubes can be exposed to laser pulses that carbon nanotubes can not, allowing a new range of applications.)

Biomedical researchers at the University of Arkansas and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock have developed a special contrast-imaging agent that is capable of molecular mapping of lymphatic endothelial cells and detecting cancer metastasis in sentinel lymph nodes. The new material could be used as a more efficient and less toxic alternative to nanoparticles and fluorescent labels used in the non-invasive, targeted molecular detection of normal cells, such as immune-related cells, and abnormal cells, such as cancer cells and bacteria. Findings were published Sunday in Nature Nanotechnology.

Research teams led by Jin-Woo Kim, associate professor in the department of biological and agricultural engineering at the University of Arkansas, and Vladimir P. Zharov, professor in the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at UAMS, worked with carbon nanotubes and gold. In a previous study, Kim and Zharov demonstrated that carbon nanotubes held great promise as contrast agents for photoacoustic detection and photothermal killing of individual bacteria in blood system.

Developed by Zharov, photoacoustic and photothermal methods deliver energy, via laser pulses, into biological tissue. When some of the energy is absorbed and converted into heat, it expands and emits sound waves. However, the carbon nanotubes had not been fully developed as an imaging agent because of concerns about toxicity.

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