Plasmonic photothermal therapy (PPTT) using gold nanoparticles
The use of lasers, over the past few decades, has emerged to be highly promising for cancer therapy modalities, most commonly the photothermal therapy method, which employs light absorbing dyes for achieving the photothermal damage of tumors, and the photodynamic therapy, which employs chemical photosensitizers that generate singlet oxygen that is capable of tumor destruction. However, recent advances in the field of nanoscience have seen the emergence of noble metal nanostructures with unique photophysical properties, well suited for applications in cancer phototherapy. Noble metal nanoparticles, on account of the phenomenon of surface plasmon resonance, possess strongly enhanced visible and near-infrared light absorption, several orders of magnitude more intense compared to conventional laser phototherapy agents. The use of plasmonic nanoparticles as highly enhanced photoabsorbing agents has thus introduced a much more selective and efficient cancer therapy strategy, viz. plasmonic photothermal therapy (PPTT). The synthetic tunability of the optothermal properties and the bio-targeting abilities of the plasmonic gold nanostructures make the PPTT method furthermore promising. In this review, we discuss the development of the PPTT method with special emphasis on the recent in vitro and in vivo success using gold nanospheres coupled with visible lasers and gold nanorods and silica–gold nanoshells coupled with near-infrared lasers.