Monday 18 December 2017

Tiny flecks of gold found to fight cancer and cut effects of chemotherapy

While this has not yet been tested on humans, it is hoped such a device could one day be used to reduce side effects of current chemotherapy treatments. Photo: Getty
While this has not yet been tested on humans, it is hoped such a device could one day be used to reduce side effects of current chemotherapy treatments. Photo: Getty

Katrine Bussey

Tiny flecks of gold could be used in the fight against cancer, new research has suggested.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh found the precious metal increased the effectiveness of drugs used to treat lung cancer cells.

Minute fragments, known as gold nanoparticles, were encased in a chemical device by the research team.

While this has not yet been tested on humans, it is hoped such a device could one day be used to reduce side effects of current chemotherapy treatments by precisely targeting diseased cells without damaging healthy tissue.

Gold is a safe chemical element and has the ability to accelerate - or catalyse - chemical reactions.

Researchers discovered properties of the metal that allow these catalytic abilities to be accessed in living things without any side effects.

The device was shown to be effective after being implanted in the brain of a zebrafish, suggesting it can be used in living animals.

Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta said: "There is still work to do before we can use this on patients, but this study is a step forward.

"We hope that a similar device in humans could one day be implanted by surgeons to activate chemotherapy directly in tumours and reduce harmful effects to healthy organs."

Irish Independent

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