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In a first, gold nanoparticles used to treat prostate cancer cells

Scientists are utilizing gold nanoparticles

Scientists are utilizing gold nanoparticles that act as tumor-seeking missiles to target prostate cancer, in a first-of-its-kind clinical trial. The nanoparticles or nanoshells are created of small layers of silica glass formed into a sphere and wrapped in a thin layer of gold.

The shells seek out and saturate cancerous cells, and their advanced vibrational properties are then harnessed to cause the tumorous tissue to pulse with high temperature when the light is applied through a laser specifically designed to excite the particles. The oscillation impairs the cancer cells while preserving the healthy tissue, avoiding the nerves and urinary sphincter. This procedure is the first in the globe that is precise enough to potentially avoid negative ramifications like urinary incontinence or sexual impotence.

“This therapy could be life-changing for men diagnosed with prostate cancer and I am honored to be among the first doctors the US Food and Drug Administration approved to put it to the test,” commented Steven Canfield from The University of Texas in the US. Prostate cancer starts when cells in a man’s prostate gland mutate and start to grow uncontrollably. Treatment options have traditionally covered radical prostatectomy, which is the removal of the prostate gland and some of the tissue around it, radiation therapy and cryotherapy, among others. These methods carry the potential to have a negative impact on urinary function and sexual performance.

“The side effects of present prostate cancer treatments can be extremely traumatic. This new technology holds the potential to eliminate those life-altering effects, while still removing the cancer tissue and reducing hospital and recovery time,” Canfield said. “In fact, the first patient in the trial was actually riding a bike within a week of his treatment,” he stated. The gold nanoparticles were invented by Naomi Halas, the head of Rice University in the US.

Canfield managed closely with Halas and Nanospectra Biosciences, the company where the shells are licensed, to incorporate the state-of-the-art technology into the trial that is also underway at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the University of Michigan to test the efficacy of the therapy.


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