Gold Nanorods Carrying Paclitaxel for Photothermal-Chemotherapy of Cancer

S. Bhana, X. Huang
University of Memphis, US

Keywords: gold nanorods, photothermal therapy, chemotherapy, paclitaxel, combination treatment


Photothermal therapy based on near infrared-absorbing nanoparticles has emerged as a promising treatment for cancer during the past decade. However, complete eradication of tumor cells is difficult due to the heterogeneous laser heating of the nanoparticles inside the tumor. Here, we developed a method to improve the efficacy by combining chemotherapy with photothermal therapy using paclitaxel-loaded gold nanorods. Paclitaxel was loaded to gold nanorods with high density (2.0 × 104 paclitaxel per gold nanorod) via nonspecific adsorption, followed by stabilization with poly(ethylene glycol) linked with 11-mercaptoundecanoic acid. Paclitaxel was entrapped in the hydrophobic pocket of the polymeric monolayer on the surface of gold nanorods, which allows direct cellular delivery of the hydrophobic drugs via the lipophilic plasma membrane. Combined photothermal therapy and chemotherapy with the paclitaxel-loaded gold nanorods was shown to kill 30 % more cells than chemotherapy and 40% more cells than the photothermal therapy alone. The superior combination treatment was found to be ascribed to a synergistic effect between chemotherapy and photothermal therapy. The paclitaxel-gold nanorod enabled photothermal-chemotherapy has the potential of preventing tumor reoccurrence and metastasis and may have an important impact on the treatment of head and neck cancer and other malignancies in the clinic.