Politecnico di Torino - Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24 - 10129 Torino, ITALY

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Nanotechnology for the treatment of melanoma



The invention consists of a bio-molecular complex formed by tumor-tropic cells (ECFCs) and gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) capable of emanating effective thermal energy for the cauterization of melanomas (and other solid tumors).

Technical features

The invention identifies a subpopulation of endothelial cell progenitors (called ECFCs, Endothelial Colonies–Forming Cells) that can be appropriately labeled and combined with gold nanoparticles to diagnose and treat melanomas. Such cells, taken from human umbilical cord blood, are combined with stabilized gold nanoparticles of controlled composition (AuNPs) and still maintain original endothelial properties (migration, proliferation, angiogenesis). In animal experimentation, such bio-molecular complex spontaneously is localized at the level of melanoma after 18-24 hours from the injection, taking advantage of the well known CXCR4 (expressed by ECFCs)-SDF-1 (produced by the tumor mass) system. The complex is still present within the tumor mass in the following 25 days. Au-Np-ECFs-enriched tumors and their metastases may be revealed by SPECT or by photoacoustic imaging (diagnosis). Stimulated with a pulsed laser beam, the complex reacts by releasing heat that cauterizes the tumor mass by inducing a coagulation necrosis (therapy).

Possible Applications

  • Diagnosis of primary melanomas;
  • Diagnosis of melanoma metastases;
  • Treatment of melanoma;
  • Treatment of melanoma metastases;
  • Diagnosis and treatment of all tumors and metastases, whose microenvironment releases SDF-1, the cytokine that attracts within the tumor mass the Au-NP-ECFCs that express the SDF-1 receptor (CXCR4).


  • Long-lasting bio-molecular compound;
  • Easy to prepare;
  • Low cost;
  • ECFCs of the same patient may be used to deliver AuNPs within tumors (personalized therapy), in order to avoid rejection;
  • Identification of the biomolecular complex by either photoacoustic imaging or SPECT tomography.