Laser photothermal therapy of cancer with the use of gold nanoparticles immunotargeted to molecular markers on the cell surface has been shown to be an effective modality to selectively kill cancer cells at much lower laser powers than those needed for healthy cells. To elucidate the minimum light dosimetry required to induce cell death, photothermal destruction of two cancerous cell lines and a noncancerous cell line treated with antiepidermal growth factor receptor (anti-EGFR) antibody-conjugated gold nanoparticles is studied, and a numerical heat transport model is used to estimate the local temperature rise within the cells as a result of the laser heating of the gold nanoparticles. It is found that cell samples with higher nanoparticle loading require a lower incident laser power to achieve a certain temperature rise. Numerically estimated temperatures of 70–80°C achieved by heating the gold particles agree well with the measured threshold temperature for destruction of the cell lines by oven heating and those measured in an earlier nanoshell method. Specific binding of anti-EGFR antibody to cancerous cells overexpressing EGFR selectively increases the gold nanoparticle loading within cancerous cells, thus allowing the cancerous cells to be destroyed at lower laser power thresholds than needed for the noncancerous cells. In addition, photothermal therapy using gold nanoparticles requires lower laser power thresholds than therapies using conventional dyes due to the much higher absorption coefficient of the gold nanoparticles.
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Vol. 82 • No. 2