Upconversion nanoparticles convert infrared light into ultraviolet and visible light

Researchers from the department of bioengineering at the national university of Singapore’s school of engineering have developed a new technique that can convert infrared light into ultraviolet and visible light using nanoparticles, paving the way for non-invasive treatments for deep tumors, physicists group reported. The technique, which claims to inhibit tumor growth and control gene expression, is the world’s first non-invasive photodynamic therapy to treat deep tumors with nanoparticles. The paper appears in a recent issue of the journal nature medicine.
Zhang yong, an associate professor at the national university of Singapore, who led the study, said genes in the body release certain proteins to keep the body healthy. But sometimes the process goes awry, leading to diseases including cancer. Non-invasive light therapy has previously been found to control gene expression and correct this process. But the use of ultraviolet light has certain side effects, sometimes even more than the cost; Visible light, however, can’t penetrate deep enough to reach tumors. To do this, he and his team developed nanoparticles encased in mesoporous silica, which is between the macroscopic and microscopic scales. They found that when the nanoparticles were introduced into a patient’s area of focus, they converted near-infrared light into visible or ultraviolet light. This method can effectively activate the gene, control the expression of protein, and achieve the goal of treating cancer cells.
The researchers say near-infrared light is safe and more penetrating than ultraviolet and visible light, reaching deeper into tumor tissue without harming healthy cells, and they are planning to extend it to other light-based treatments. The technique has broad application prospects. Besides light therapy, it can also be used in biological imaging and clinical diagnosis. With these nanoparticles, clearer and more accurate images of cancer cells can be obtained. The project has received funding from the A*STAR institute in Singapore and the Singapore national research fund, and the team will use the technology to develop kits for rapid diagnosis. (source: science and technology daily wang xiaolong)

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