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Genetically Programmed Clusters of Gold Nanoparticles for Cancer Cell-Targeted Photothermal Therapy

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journal contribution
posted on 14.10.2015, 00:00 by Mi Hwa Oh, Jeong Heon Yu, Insu Kim, Yoon Sung Nam
Interpretations of the interactions of nanocarriers with biological cells are often complicated by complex synthesis of materials, broad size distribution, and heterogeneous surface chemistry. Herein, the major capsid proteins of an icosahedral T7 phage (55 nm in diameter) are genetically engineered to display a gold-binding peptide and a prostate cancer cell-binding peptide in a tandem sequence. The genetically modified phage attracts gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) to form a cluster of gold nanoparticles (about 70 nanoparticles per phage). The cluster of AuNPs maintains cell-targeting functionality and exhibits excellent dispersion stability in serum. Under a very low light irradiation (60 mW cm–2), only targeted AuNP clusters kill the prostate cancer cells in minutes (not in other cell types), whereas neither nontargeted AuNP clusters nor citrate-stabilized AuNPs cause any significant cell death. The result suggests that the prostate cancer cell-targeted clusters of AuNPs are targeted to only prostate cancer cells and, when illuminated, generate local heating to more efficiently and selectively kill the targeted cancer cells. Our strategy can be generalized to target other types of cells and assemble other kinds of nanoparticles for a broad range of applications.