Background: Cancer causes millions of deaths and huge economic losses every year. The currently
practiced methods for cancer therapy have many defects, such as side effects, low curate rate, and discomfort for
Objective: Herein, we summarize the applications of gold nanorods (AuNRs) in cancer therapy based on their
photothermal effect-the conversion of light into local heat under irradiation.
Methods: The recent advances in the synthesis and regulation of AuNRs, and facile surface functionalization
further facilitate their use in cancer treatment. For cancer therapy, AuNRs need to be modified or coated with
biocompatible molecules (e.g. polyethylene glycol) and materials (e.g. silicon) to reduce the cytotoxicity and
increase their biocompatibility, stability, and retention time in the bloodstream. The accumulation of AuNRs in
cancerous cells and tissues is due to the high leakage in tumors or the specific interaction between the cell surface
and functional molecules on AuNRs such as antibodies, aptamers, and receptors.
Results: AuNRs are employed not only as therapeutics to ablate tumors solely based on the heat produced under
laser that could denature protein and activate the apoptotic pathway, but also as synergistic therapies combined
with photodynamic therapy, chemotherapy, and gene therapy to kill cancer more efficiently. More importantly,
other materials like TiO2, graphene oxide, and silicon, etc. are incorporated on the AuNR surface for multimodal
cancer treatment with high drug loadings and improved cancer-killing efficiency. To highlight their applications
in cancer treatment, examples of therapeutic effects both in vitro and in vivo are presented.
Conclusion: AuNRs have potential applications for clinical cancer therapy.