A study was published earlier this year by researchers in South Korea who were examining the possibility of using gold nanorods to fight brain tumors. This relates to viruses because the vehicle for getting the gold nanorods to the tumor site was an envelope of rabies virus (RABV) glycoproteins. The RABV glycoproteins were chosen for their ability to get inside of neurons and the researchers hoped that these RABV coated nanorods would travel up these neurons to a brain tumor where they would be localized and then heat up to cook the tumor when exposed to near infrared light. In the study, the researchers conducted a number of separate experiments examining the localization of gold nanorods, how they heated up when exposed to near infrared light, and the demonstrated potential for tumor reduction via this methodology. A major success of the study was the creation of nanorods that perfectly fit in RABV envelopes. Their study results supported the idea that the RABV envelope helped localize the nanorods and that the nanorods would heat to a sufficient degree to decrease the size of the tumor.
While an incredible idea, there were a number of faults with the study. First, when they examined the tumor destroying capability, the tumor was placed on the rat’s side, not in its brain. Second, the researcher’s never justified why the golden nanorods would localize preferentially in tumor cells. This paper also made me ask a couple of questions: how do the nanorods move from cell to cell in the brain? Wouldn’t this process (if true) take a long incubation time much like rabies? Would heated nanorods that didn’t make it to the tumor injure healthy cells?
Though this paper asks more questions than it seems to answer, the possibility for using rabies virus as a viral vector is an intriguing one and, surely, more research will surface to this extent.
- Devon Z.