The latest development in cancer treatment comes in the form of gold dust. Scientists from the University of Cambridge have found that tiny particles of gold may be key in treating a common, aggressive brain tumor called giloblastoma multiforme, according to the Press Association. The treatment involves the "Trojan horse" method, which includes implanting the nano-particles of gold into the brain to kill tumor cells.
Researchers created nanostructures of gold and cisplatin, which is a conventional chemotherapy drug. These structures are released into tumor cells that were taken from patients and grown in a lab. Once implanted, they were exposed to radiotherapy, which resulted in the gold releasing electrons that damage cancer cell DNA, as well as the structure. This helps to intensify the impact of the chemotherapy drug. After 20 days, the cell culture showed no signs of regrowth, implying that the tumor cells had been destroyed.
Gold is an ideal material because it poses no threat to patients and the shape and size of particles can be accurately controlled by scientists. The electron emitted when exposed to radiotherapy is low-emission, which means it won't cause damage to healthy cells in surrounding areas.
"The combined therapy that we have devised appears to be incredibly effective in the live cell culture," Mark Welland, professor of nanotechnology at Cambridge's St John's College, told the Press Association. "This is not a cure, but it does demonstrate what nanotechnology can achieve in fighting these aggressive cancers. By combining this strategy with cancer cell-targeting materials, we should be able to develop a therapy for glioblastoma and other challenging cancers in the future."
Giloblastoma is the most resistant form of brain cancer, because the tumor cells surround healthy brain tissue. This makes surgical removal basically impossible. Many patients die within just a few months of diagnosis, with only a six percent survival rate after five years.