Selective killing of cancer cells by nanoparticle-assisted ultrasound

Olga K. Kosheleva, Tsung Ching Lai, G. Chen, Michael Hsiao*, Chung Hsuan Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


Background: Intense ultrasound, such as that used for tumor ablation, does not differentiate between cancerous and normal cells. A method combining ultrasound and biocompatible gold or magnetic nanoparticles (NPs) was developed under in vitro conditions using human breast and lung epithelial cells, which causes ultrasound to preferentially destroy cancerous cells. Results: Co-cultures of BEAS-2B normal lung cells and A549 cancerous lung cells labeled with green and red fluorescent proteins, respectively, were treated with focused ultrasound beams with the addition of gold and magnetic nanoparticles. There were significantly more necrotic A549 cells than BEAS-2 cells when gold nanoparticles were added to the culture medium [(50.6 ± 15.1) vs. (7.4 ± 2.9) %, respectively, P < 0.01]. This selective damage to cancer cells was also observed for MDA-MB231 breast cancer cells relative to MCF-10A normal breast cells after treatment with magnetic nanoparticles. Conclusions: The data obtained for different cell lines indicate that nanoparticle-assisted ultrasound therapy (NAUT) could be an effective new tool for cancer-specific treatment and could potentially be combined with conventional methods of cancer diagnosis and therapy to further increase the overall cancer cure rate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number46
JournalJournal of Nanobiotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 14 Jun 2016


  • Cancer cells
  • Nanoparticles
  • Ultrasound therapy

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