Future Cancer Treatment: Pieces of Gold?

Tiny spheres work alongside radiotherapy
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2014 6:29 AM CDT
Future Cancer Treatment: Pieces of Gold?
Gold could help fight brain cancer.   (AP Photo)

Experts have discovered a possible new cancer treatment, and it's dependent on little balls of gold. Very little: The nanospheres are 4 million times smaller than a hair's width. After spreading a chemotherapy drug on the spheres, which have gold at their core, researchers placed them in extracted cells affected by glioblastoma multiforme, a type of brain cancer—and they increased the effectiveness of traditional treatment. The scientists opted for gold, Yahoo News notes, because it won't hurt patients and is easy to work with.

When radiotherapy was applied to samples of cancer cells infused with gold, electrons in the gold helped disrupt the cells' DNA, the BBC reports. Meanwhile, the chemotherapy drug coating the gold balls was released to attack the cancer further. After 20 days, all the cancer cells in the samples seemed to have been destroyed. Researchers praised the "double-whammy effect" of the treatment, but they don't expect to try the process on humans until 2016. (Another unusual weapon in the fight against cancer: bee venom.)

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