Near-infrared remotely triggered drug-release strategies for cancer treatment

Amanda M. Goodman, Oara Neumann, Kamilla Nørregaard, Luke Henderson, Mi Ran Choi, Susan E. Clare, Naomi J. Halas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Remotely controlled, localized drug delivery is highly desirable for potentially minimizing the systemic toxicity induced by the administration of typically hydrophobic chemotherapy drugs by conventional means. Nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems provide a highly promising approach for localized drug delivery, and are an emerging field of interest in cancer treatment. Here, we demonstrate near-IR light-triggered release of two drug molecules from both DNA-based and protein-based hosts that have been conjugated to near-infrared-absorbing Au nanoshells (SiO2 core, Au shell), each forming a light-responsive drug delivery complex. We show that, depending upon the drug molecule, the type of host molecule, and the laser illumination method (continuous wave or pulsed laser), in vitro light-triggered release can be achieved with both types of nanoparticle-based complexes. Two breast cancer drugs, docetaxel and HER2-targeted lapatinib, were delivered to MDA-MB-231 and SKBR3 (overexpressing HER2) breast cancer cells and compared with release in noncancerous RAW 264.7 macrophage cells. Continuous wave laser-induced release of docetaxel from a nanoshell-based DNA host complex showed increased cell death, which also coincided with nonspecific cell death from photothermal heating. Using a femtosecond pulsed laser, lapatinib release from a nanoshell-based human serum albumin protein host complex resulted in increased cancerous cell death while noncancerous control cells were unaffected. Both methods provide spatially and temporally localized drug-release strategies that can facilitate high local concentrations of chemotherapy drugs deliverable at a specific treatment site over a specific time window, with the potential for greatly minimized side effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12419-12424
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number47
StatePublished - Nov 21 2017


  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Drug release
  • Nanoparticle
  • Near-infrared

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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