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Cancer treatment worth weight in gold

11 August 2017 08:25

Tiny gold particles could help treat cancer, researchers say

Tiny gold particles could help treat cancer, researchers say

The precious metal, gold, is a familiar sight in jewellery adorning the body but it could also play a role in treating cancers that grow inside the body.

That's according to new research from a team at Edinburgh University, who say tiny flecks of gold could boost the effectiveness of drugs used to treat lung cancer cells.

Targeting tumours

During laboratory tests, scientists found minute fragments of gold, known as nanoparticles, enabled them to target tumours with greater precision.

These properties of gold were previously unknown, they say.

The findings have yet to be tested on humans, and researchers say "there is still work to do" before that can happen.

But experts hope it could eventually target chemotherapy directly into the tumour without surrounding healthy organs suffering any side effects from the drugs.

People who have gone through chemo can arrange specialist medical travel insurance.

What the experts say

Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta, from the University of Edinburgh's CRUK 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 study was funded by Cancer Research UK, and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.