Research Article

Nano Research

, Volume 4, Issue 12, pp 1248-1260

First online:

Multifunctional FeCo-graphitic carbon nanocrystals for combined imaging, drug delivery and tumor-specific photothermal therapy in mice

  • Sarah P. SherlockAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, Stanford University
  • , Hongjie DaiAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, Stanford University Email author 

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Ultrasmall FeCo-graphitic carbon shell nanocrystals (FeCo/GC) are promising multifunctional materials capable of highly efficient drug delivery in vitro and magnetic resonance imaging in vivo. In this work, we demonstrate the use of FeCo/GC for highly effective cancer therapy through combined drug delivery, tumor-selective near-infrared photothermal therapy, and cancer imaging of a 4T1 syngeneic breast cancer model. The graphitic carbon shell of the ∼4 nm FeCo/GC readily loads doxorubicin (DOX) via π-π stacking and absorbs near-infrared light giving photothermal heating. When used for cancer treatment, intravenously administrated FeCo/GC-DOX led to complete tumor regression in 45% of mice when combined with 20 min of near-infrared laser irradiation selectively heating the tumor to 43–45 °C. In addition, the use of FeCo/GC-DOX results in reduced systemic toxicity compared with free DOX and appears to be safe in mice monitored for over 1 yr. FeCo/GC-DOX is shown to be a highly integrated nanoparticle system for synergistic cancer therapy leading to tumor regression of a highly aggressive tumor model.


Nanocrystals photothermal therapy doxorubicin hyperthermia magnetic resonance imaging