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NIR-II-responsive Nickel-based Therapy Opens a New Door for Synergistic Oncotherapy

Scientists have successfully developed a PEGylation urchin-like nickel nanocluster for synergistic photothermal-chemodynamic therapy, overcoming previous limitations limiting their clinical applications.

In recent years, an emerging tumour therapeutic alternative, chemodynamic therapy (CDT), has been receiving significant attention due to its non-invasive modality and minimal side effects. CDT works by initiating Fenton reaction in situ by generating highly toxic radicals within tumour tissues, thereby causing cell apoptosis and tumour growth suppression. Until now, various kinds of metal and non-metal-based nanozymes have been studied as Fenton agents for CDT and photothermal agents for photothermal therapy (PTT), but these materials are limited in their stability, catalytic efficiency, and photothermal conversion efficiency, hence there is a need to innovate a new therapeutic agent for combined therapy.

Now, a study spearheaded by Professor Wang Hui at the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science (HFIPS) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has reported that a polyethylene glycol-modified urchin-like nickel nanoclusters (PUNNC) with an applied 9 Tesla magnetic field can effectively kill tumour cells in vitro and inhibit tumour tissue growth in vivo, when used for photothermal enhanced chemodynamic synergistic therapy under near-infrared (NIR)-II radiation.

Using a one-step solvothermal method, Prof. Wang and colleagues synthesised PUNNC modified with polyethylene glycol to enhance stability and biocompatibility under an applied magnetic field. With the increase of magnetic field strength, the length of needle-like protrusions on the surface also increased while the crystallinity of the nickel clusters decreased. This allowed the 9T-PUNNC to effectively absorb NIR-II and convert it into local heat to achieve the effect of PTT, while the decrease of crystallinity and the increase of local temperature accelerated the acidification process of PUNNC, thereby promoting the Fenton-like reaction and CDT efficacy. Through experiments, the researchers also demonstrated that PUNNC-mediated combined treatment of PTT and CDT can significantly increase the killing of tumour cells and inhibit the growth of tumour tissue.

Having developed a bifunctional nanotherapeutic based on NIR-II-Responsive PUNNC for synergistic tumour therapy, their innovation is expected to provide superior therapeutic efficacy due to their highly synergistic effect. [APBN]

Source: Qian et al. (2022). NIR-II responsive PEGylated nickel nanoclusters for photothermal enhanced chemodynamic synergistic oncotherapy. Theranostics, 12(8), 3690-3702.