Gold Nanoparticles: Recent Advances in the Biomedical Applications
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Among the multiple branches of nanotechnology applications in the area of medicine and biology, Nanoparticle technology is the fastest growing and shows significant future promise. Nanoscale structures, with size similar to many biological molecules, show different physical and chemical properties compared to either small molecules or bulk materials, find many applications in the fields of biomedical imaging and therapy. Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are relatively inert in biological environment, and have a number of physical properties that are suitable for several biomedical applications. For example, AuNPs have been successfully employed in inducing localized hyperthermia for the destruction of tumors or radiotherapy for cancer, photodynamic therapy, computed tomography imaging, as drug carriers to tumors, bio-labeling through single particle detection by electron microscopy and in photothermal microscopy. Recent advances in synthetic chemistry makes it possible to make gold nanoparticles with precise control over physicochemical and optical properties that are desired for specific clinical or biological applications. Because of the availability of several methods for easy modification of the surface of gold nanoparticles for attaching a ligand, drug or other targeting molecules, AuNPs are useful in a wide variety of applications. Even though gold is biologically inert and thus shows much less toxicity, the relatively low rate of clearance from circulation and tissues can lead to health problems and therefore, specific targeting of diseased cells and tissues must be achieved before AuNPs find their application for routine human use.
KeywordsGold nanoparticles Photodynamic therapy Nanomaterials Nanomedicine Photothermal therapy Drug carriers
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