Polydopamine Coated PLGA Nanoparticle for Photothermal Therapy


Reference #: 01169

The University of South Carolina is offering licensing opportunities for a biodegradable, photothermal-responsive nanoparticle that can be used for disease therapy, drug delivery, and other biomedical applications.

Invention Description:

The subject invention is a dual-functional, photothermal nanoparticle that not only delivers therapeutic agents to a target within the body but also generates heat under exposure to near-infrared (NIR) irradiation. The hybrid nanoparticle uses FDA-approved materials and includes a poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) core and a polydopamine shell making it biodegradable and biocompatible.

Potential Applications:

These hybrid nanoparticles may be utilized in a wide variety of photothermal and biomedical applications including (but not limited to) drug delivery; gene delivery, cancer therapy; atherosclerosis treatment; and the detection, treatment, and monitoring of diseases. They may also be adapted for use in non-surgical pet sterilization.

Advantages and Benefits:

Major competitive advantages these nanoparticles include:

  1. High drug loading capacity;
  2. Excellent photothermal converting ability;
  3. Remote-controlled drug release activated by NIR light;
  4. Ability to be loaded with chemotherapy agents and used in conjunction with NIR irradiation to enhance drug efficacy while minimize side effects;
  5. Ability to be labeled with a detectable substance and used to detect the existence of clinically relevant targets, such as tumors through PET imaging


Photothermal therapy has several advantageous qualities that make it very attractive for in vivo applications. It does not require oxygen to generate the temperature increase, causes few side effects, is minimally invasive, and allows for quick patient recovery that requires little or no hospitalization. Additionally, the process utilizes relatively long wavelength light (e.g., infrared or NIR) which are low energy and, therefore, less harmful to healthy cells and tissues through which the energy passes before interacting with the photothermal substrate. Likewise, the use of light in the NIR spectrum has additional merits due to its high spatial accuracy.

Despite its advantages, existing photothermal substrates present challenges for in vivo applications. For instance, substances used in the preparation of nanostructures such as gold nanorods, are often cytotoxic, thus limiting their clinical application. In addition, the unsatisfied payload carrying capacity of known photothermal substrates has hindered their clinical translation. In addition, known materials are generally not biodegradable, and as such will either remain in the subject’s body or, if expelled, need to be recovered in order to avoid release into the environment.


This system has be evaluated in vivo to show that a drug-loaded nanoparticle could effectively eradicate tumor cells when triggered by NIR irradiation


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Technology Commercialization
University of South Carolina
Peisheng Xu
Huacheng He
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