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Realgar and arsenene nanomaterials as arsenic-based anticancer agents


Arsenic trioxide (ATO) is an approved therapy for the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia, but the extension of arsenic-based therapies to other types of malignancies, notably tumor-forming cancers, has been slow. Nanodelivery vehicles offer a means of effectively delivering ATO to tumors. Very recently, there has been a series of developments in the formulation of arsenic-based nanomedicines that are not simply loaded with ATO. Realgar nanoparticles are comprised of molecular As4S4 units. Current studies suggest that realgar nanoparticles ultimately act in a manner similar to ATO, but with greatly attenuated toxic side effects. A drastically different approach is taken with arsenene nanosheets, a 2-dimensional form of elemental As. The electronic properties of this material allow it to mediate both photothermal therapy and photodynamic therapy. The exploration of these nanomaterials is still in its infancy but is poised to allow arsenic-based therapy to make yet another significant impact on cancer treatment.

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