NEW DELHI: A research team from IIT-Mandi has developed complex nano-dimensional capsules that can be used for multimodal imaging which may help the development of theranostic techniques for cancer and other diseases.
Theranostics is an emerging field in medicine, especially in oncology, and combines “diagnostics”, the detection of abnormalities and maladies, with “therapeutics”, treatment of the malady. It involves the use of a single multifunctional agent that can diagnose ailments, deliver drugs and monitor treatment efficacy. Theranostics could enable treatment options that are individual-specific, which can conceivably result in better prognoses.
“Nano-materials – materials that are approximately few thousand times smaller than the thickness of a single human hair – have brought the concept of theranostics closer to reality,” said Amit Jaiswal.
The research work was undertaken by a team lead by Jaiswal, Assistant Professor, School of Basic Sciences, IIT-Mandi.
The unique size scale of the particles can result in Enhanced-Permeability-and-Retention (EPR) effect in tumour targeting and treatment.
Jaiswal and his team have developed a ‘smart’ nano-material that can serve as an effective theranostic agent. Their plasmonic nano-capsules have functionalities that make them useful in diagnosis through a technique called Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy, or SERS, in addition to carrying a cancer drug in it, which can be released simultaneously.
The nano-capsules comprise a solid gold core, which is surrounded by a porous gold layer, the two layers forming what they term, a “gold nanorattle”. The nanocapsules “enable an extraordinary nanotheranostic platform that can perform bimodal SERS and fluorescence-based bioimaging,” the researchers wrote.
Although, this research does not imply a cure for cancer, the nanostructured capsules developed can potentially extend the existing paradigms in therapeutic procedures by allowing imaging to be performed not only before and after, but also during a treatment regimen.
Theranostic nanomedicine is a promising biomedical technology and can conceivably herald the era of personalized medicine. Challenges, however, remain including understanding the toxicity issues involved in using nanosized materials in biological domains, and specific targeting issues, which must be addressed before it can be applied for clinical practice.