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Gold-silver alloy nanoshells: a new candidate for nanotherapeutics and diagnostics

Dana E Gheorghe1, Lili Cui1, Christof Karmonik2, Audrius Brazdeikis3, Jose M Penaloza1, Joseph K Young4, Rebekah A Drezek45 and Malavosklish Bikram1*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacological & Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Houston, Texas Medical Center Campus, 1441 Moursund St., Houston, TX 77030, USA

2 The Methodist Hospital, 6565 Fannin, Houston, TX 77030, USA

3 Department of Physics and Texas Center for Superconductivity, University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun Road, Houston, TX 77004, USA

4 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Rice University, 6100 Main Street, MS-366, Houston, TX 77005, USA

5 Department of Bioengineering, Rice University, 6100 Main Street, MS-142, Houston, TX 77005, USA

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Citation and License

Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:554  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-554

Published: 13 October 2011

Abstract

We have developed novel gold-silver alloy nanoshells as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) dual T1 (positive) and T2 (negative) contrast agents as an alternative to typical gadolinium (Gd)-based contrast agents. Specifically, we have doped iron oxide nanoparticles with Gd ions and sequestered the ions within the core by coating the nanoparticles with an alloy of gold and silver. Thus, these nanoparticles are very innovative and have the potential to overcome toxicities related to renal clearance of contrast agents such as nephrogenic systemic fibrosis. The morphology of the attained nanoparticles was characterized by XRD which demonstrated the successful incorporation of Gd(III) ions into the structure of the magnetite, with no major alterations of the spinel structure, as well as the growth of the gold-silver alloy shells. This was supported by TEM, ICP-AES, and SEM/EDS data. The nanoshells showed a saturation magnetization of 38 emu/g because of the presence of Gd ions within the crystalline structure with r1 and r2 values of 0.0119 and 0.9229 mL mg-1 s-1, respectively (Au:Ag alloy = 1:1). T1- and T2-weighted images of the nanoshells showed that these agents can both increase the surrounding water proton signals in the T1-weighted image and reduce the signal in T2-weighted images. The as-synthesized nanoparticles exhibited strong absorption in the range of 600-800 nm, their optical properties being strongly dependent upon the thickness of the gold-silver alloy shell. Thus, these nanoshells have the potential to be utilized for tumor cell ablation because of their absorption as well as an imaging agent.