Health & Fit Cancer: gold could kill tumors
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Researchers from the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (United States) believe gold could become the next cancer cure. The team of scientists is taking the gamble of defeating cancer cells with nanoparticles of this precious metal.
Generally used to create beautiful jewelry, gold is also believed to have beneficial health properties. According to experts from the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois, placing nanoparticles of this precious metal in tumors could kill cancer cells. This discovery is new hope for cancer patients.
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Cancer: from precious metal to cure
Gold nanoparticles are often used in for biomedical purposes due to its small size. However, Professor Dipanjan Pan, lead author of the study published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, assures us that the method he has developed could improve cancer treatment. It allows nanoparticles to be placed directly inside cancer cells.
To allow gold to enter tumors, the researchers used polyethylene glycol, also called PEG. After its introduction, this colorless viscous liquid transforms the precious metal from its ionic form into gold nanoparticles within minutes.
This method has advantages that should not be overlooked. Indeed, the speed of action of the product is very fast. The transformation of salts into gold nanoparticles is 30 minutes instead of 24 hours for other treatments. This speed is explained by the small amount of gold required in cancer cells.
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We have developed a unique system in which the gold nanoparticles are reduced by cellular biomolecules and these are able to retain their functionality, including the ability to guide the remaining cluster to the nucleus, explains the scientist in a Press release.
Once the nanoparticles were in the cancer cells, the researchers targeted them with lasers. The latter heats up the tiny gold particles as well as the tumor, which destroys the cancer cells.Experimentation and treatment
This experiment was tested only on mice. Prof. Pan explains that his team performed this study to show the biomedical potential of gold nanoparticles against tumors. He adds that this rodent work has helped illustrate "the intracellular formation and nuclear migration of these gold nanoparticles present a very promising approach for the application of drug delivery."
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