Scientists make golden discovery that could improve cancer treatment
11 Aug 2017
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have discovered that small amounts of gold could be used to improve the effectiveness of cancer drugs.
The team, which worked in collaboration with researchers from the University of Zaragoza, also said the discovery could reduce the harmful effects of medication.
As part of the research, the scientists encased minute gold nanoparticles in a chemical device to control chemical reactions. According to the researchers, the device was shown to catalyse a directed chemical reaction when implanted in the brain of a zebrafish, suggesting it could be used in living animals.
Gold nanoparticles also activated anti-cancer medicines that had been applied to lung cancer cells in a dish, increasing the drugs' effectiveness, the researchers added.
Asier Unciti-Broceta, a reader in innovative therapeutics at the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre, said: “We have discovered new properties of gold that were previously unknown and our findings suggest that the metal could be used to release drugs inside tumours very safely.
“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.”
The research was funded by Cancer Research UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
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