A collaborative study by Switzerland and Britain based researchers, which was featured in paper ACS Nano states that gold nanoparticles can be used to improve effectiveness of vaccines and cancer drugs. The nanoparticles can be used to target B cells of immune system as the human body is able to tolerate gold particles well and in this form it can deliver drugs in a more precise way. Nanoparticles have been in use now for nearly 20 years in the field of medicine even though some doctors and scientist are concerned about their safety and effect on human immune system.
Previous studies had shown that gold nanoparticles can work with macrophages in biocompatible ways and this latest study has revealed how gold nanoparticles interact with white blood cells that are smaller and a little tricky to manage. These B lymphocytes are responsible for production of antibodies within the immune system. Senior study author Carole Bourquin from Switzerland based Geneva University stated that nanoparticles form a protective vehicle for vaccines and other drugs to be delivered to desired destination without affecting any other cells. She and her colleagues investigated interactions between varied forms of gold nanoparticles and human B lymphocytes.
The researchers carried out experiments to expose B cells to gold nanoparticles in spherical and rod shapes which were both coated and uncoated. The team observed activation markers on surface of B cells that helped them gauge the extent to which these nanoparticles inhibited or activated immune responses. Though these nanoparticles had varied levels of success in producing immune response from B cells they did not produce any side effects. They also found out that shape of these nanoparticles and the type of coating on their surface had a noticeable effect on their interaction with white cells. The best gold nanoparticles were spherical ones coated with polymer which were stable and did not interfere with white cells functions while uncoated spherical ones had a tendency to form clumps.