Gold nanoparticles for the control of blood vessels growth

Scientists at UCIBIO, FCT, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa have demonstrated for the first time the potential use of smart nanomaterials for the effective modulation of angiogenesis in vivo.

The international team of researchers, led by Pedro V. Baptista, showed that a small dose of gold nanoparticles grafted with specific peptides are very effective in the deliberate activation or inhibition of angiogenesis. For the fist time, it was demonstrated the effective activation and inhibition of the formation of new blood vessels using in vivo model. The work is now being published in Int. J. Nanomedicine. The major target of the project is to develop a complete nanotechnology approach to manipulate angiogenesis, which is one of the most relevant milestones in tumor progression.

Angiogenesis is the process by which new blood vessels form in the body, a process crucial for growth and development. “Unfortunately, this process also plays a key role in tumor growth and metastasis and, therefore, controlling angiogenesis may lead to the development of novel cancer therapies”, says Alexandra Fernandes one of the team’s researchers. This process is activated by signals that regulate new vessel growth (pro-angiogenic) or inhibited (anti-angiogenic).

The team of researchers explain that these results may pave the way for new approaches in dealing with cancer therapy, improving existing drug delivery strategies and creating new opportunities. To translate these findings to the clinics, the team of researchers is continuously seeking for funding.