Laser-Synthesized Germanium Nanoparticles as Biodegradable Material for Near-Infrared Photoacoustic Imaging and Cancer Phototherapy

Author(s): Iaroslav B. Belyaev, Ivan V. Zelepukin, Polina A. Kotelnikova, Gleb V. Tikhonowski, Anton A. Popov, Alina Yu. Kapitannikova, Jugal Barman, Alexey N. Kopylov, Daniil N. Bratashov, Ekaterina S. Prikhozhdenko, Andrei V. Kabashin, Sergey M. Deyev, Andrei V. Zvyagin


Biodegradable nanomaterials can significantly improve the safety profile of nanomedicine. Germanium nanoparticles (Ge NPs) with a safe biodegradation pathway are developed as efficient photothermal converters for biomedical applications. Ge NPs synthesized by femtosecond-laser ablation in liquids rapidly dissolve in physiological-like environment through the oxidation mechanism. The biodegradation of Ge nanoparticles is preserved in tumor cells in vitro and in normal tissues in mice with a half-life as short as 3.5 days. Biocompatibility of Ge NPs is confirmed in vivo by hematological, biochemical, and histological analyses. Strong optical absorption of Ge in the near-infrared spectral range enables photothermal treatment of engrafted tumors in vivo, following intravenous injection of Ge NPs. The photothermal therapy results in a 3.9-fold reduction of the EMT6/P adenocarcinoma tumor growth with significant prolongation of the mice survival. Excellent mass-extinction of Ge NPs (7.9 L g−1 cm−1 at 808 nm) enables photoacoustic imaging of bones and tumors, following intravenous and intratumoral administrations of the nanomaterial. As such, strongly absorbing near-infrared-light biodegradable Ge nanomaterial holds promise for advanced theranostics.

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