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This invention is comprised of a hydrogel scaffold loaded with conjugated gold nanoparticles that provide cancer therapy locally through three distinct mechanisms. The hydrogel patch can be implanted adjacent to a solid tumor. These nanoparticles are functionalized with biomolecules targeting unique or overexpressed biomarkers in tumor cells. The first mode of cancer therapy takes advantage of gold nanoparticles’ capacity to convert near-infrared radiation into heat, enabling delivery of photothermal therapy to tumors following irradiation. Second, gold nanorods can be conjugated to targeted therapeutic drug molecules, which are released from nanoparticles upon irradiation. Third, gold nanospheres can be conjugated to small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) that silence expression of oncogenic drivers and are also released from nanoparticles following irradiation.

Collectively, these therapies selectively kill cancer cells and prevent tumor progression and relapse by delivering local phototherapy and targeting cancer cell molecular vulnerabilities with gene therapy and drug therapy. This hydrogel patch achieves delivery of effector molecules preferentially to cancer cells with only minor damage to surrounding cells, preserving healthy tissue. Drug-gold nanorods and siRNA-gold nanospheres can be modified to tailor treatment to various tumor types with distinct molecular profiles.