Nanotechnologies for Cancer Sensing and Treatment

Phong A. Tran

Abstract Current cancer treatment usually involves the application of catheters for anticancer drug delivery to reduce tumor size, followed by surgery to remove the tumor (if possible). Then, more therapy and radiation is used to kill as many tumor cells as possible. The goal of this collective treatment is to target and kill cancerous tissue while affecting as few healthy cells as possible. Due to their nonspecificity, current cancer therapies have poor therapeutic efficacy and can also have severe side effects on normal tissues and cells. Over the last decade, an increase in the survival rate of cancer patients has been achieved, but there is still a need for improvement. In addition, cancer is often diagnosed and treated too late, i.e., when the cancer cells have already invaded and metastasized to other parts of the body. At this stage, treatment methods are limited in their effectiveness. Thus, scientists have been focusing efforts on finding alternative methods to detect cancer at earlier stages and remove such cancerous tissues more effectively. Nanoparticles (i.e., particles with dimensions less than 100 nm in at least one dimension) have become very attractive for improving cancer diagnostics, sensing, and treatment due to their novel optical, magnetic, and structural properties not available in conventional (or micron) particles or bulk solids. Nanoparticles have been extensively studied for various applications including delivering anticancer drugs to tumorous tissues and/or enhancing imaging capabilities to better diagnose and treat cancer. Moreover, nanotechnology has been used to create in situ sensors for cancer cell detection. In this review, recent work related to the improved targeted therapy for specific cancers (whether by developing more specific anticancer agents or by altering delivery methods) are summarized. Discussions on the advantages and disadvantages of the most widely studied nanoparticles used in sensors (i.e., liposome nanoparticles, polymer-based nanoparticles, quantum dots, nanoshells, and super-paramagnetic particles) in cancer imaging followed by anticancer drug delivery are highlighted. Lastly, several key advances in the development of sensors to detect cancer are discussed.

Orthopedics Research, Rhode Island Hospital, 1 Hoppin Street, Providence, RI 02903, USA e-mail: [email protected]

T.J. Webster (ed.), Nanotechnology Enabled In situ Sensors for Monitoring Health, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-7291-0_1, © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Keywords Cancer • Liposomes • Nanoparticles • Quantum dots • Nanoshells • Iron oxide • Sensors

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