Progress Report: John Ward, MD

Investigator: John Ward, MD– Assistant Professor, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas

Noninvasive Radiofrequency Field for the Targeted Destruction of Prostate Cancer Using Directed Gold Nanoparticles—Activated Gold Particles Could Provide Novel Means of Destroying Tumors

Dr. Ward is investigating a new way to kill prostate cancer cells by targeting gold nanoparticles to the tumor sites and then applying energy in the form of a type of microwave (radiofrequency ablation; RF) to heat and kill the tumor cells. To target gold to prostate cancer cells, Dr. Ward and his team have successfully decorated the surface of gold nanoparticles with Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA) antibody. PSMA is a molecule found on the cell surface of prostate cancer cells but is not on healthy cells. Therefore, the gold nanoparticles bound with PSMA antibody will bind specifically to prostate cancer cells and will be internalized. His progress report showed specific targeting of prostate cancer cells in the laboratory and subsequent internalization. Both findings are prerequisites for this project to be successful. The team is optimizing the intensity of RF required to stimulate cancer cell ablation. They are also constructing a human-sized RF treatment device. Since, gold is already FDA approved for medical use, the regulatory approval process for the use of this technology in prostate cancer patients should be timely and less complex. The over-reaching goal is that ultimately this noninvasive system will be useful for the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer.

Terms to know from this article:

Ablation

In medicine, the removal or destruction of a body part or tissue or its
function. Ablation may be performed by surgery, hormones, drugs, radio 
frequency, heat or other methods.

Tumor

A mass of excess tissue that results from abnormal cell division. Tumors perform no useful body function. They may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).