Gold nanorods 'could lead to new cancer treatment'

18 November 2011

A breakthrough in loading gold nanorods could lead to a new form of cancer treatment, according to new research.

Chemists at Rice University have found a way to load more than two million gold nanorods into a single cancerous cell, a discovery which could speed up developments of new cancer drugs and treatments.

Scientists have said that the nanorods could be heated up to kill the cancer inside of each cell - effectively cooking away the disease.

Study leader Eugene Zubarev, associate professor of chemistry at Rice, said: "The breast cancer cells that we studied were so laden with gold nanorods that their masses increased by an average of about 13 per cent."

"The cells continued to function normally, even with all of this gold inside them."

He added that ideally a low-powered laser would be used to minimise the risk of damage to healthy tissue.

Mr Zubarev mentioned that difficulties could arise as many nanorods would be needed to fill each cell and to generate enough heat to kill the disease.

Currently most cancers are treated with standard forms of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Another option to patients can be surgery to remove infected tissue.

Posted by Edward Bartel

Zubarev, Eugene, et al., "Quantitative Replacement of Cetyl Trimethylammonium Bromide by Cationic Thiol Ligands on the Surface of Gold Nanorods and Their Extremely Large Uptake by Cancer Cells", Angewandte Chemie, November 15th 2011.

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