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Bullet-like nanoparticles heat and destroy cancer cells from the inside

Date: 28.10.2020 

A research team in the UK have demonstrated how an adaptation of this technology can be used to tackle mesothelioma, a hard-to-treat cancer caused by asbestos exposure, with a little help from laser light.

Kredit: University of Cambridge/Arsalan Azad.The work was carried out by scientists from the University of Cambridge and the University of Leeds and uses nanoparticles made from gold, which has proven a popular choice of material in cancer research of this type.

The gold nanoparticles featured in this new study are tiny cylinders that measure just one thousandth of the width of a human hair. Likened to a bullet, these are formed by depositing gold onto silver nanorods at room temperature, which then builds up on the surface and causes the silver to dissolve, eventually leaving behind just a hollowed out golden tube.

The team’s gold nanotubes were added to mesothelioma cells cultured in the lab. The cells absorbed the nanotubes in a way that brought them close to their nucleus and therefore the cell's DNA. The team then applied a laser which saw the nanotubes absorb the light and start to heat up, eventually killing off the cancer cell.

“Mesothelioma is one of the ‘hard-to-treat’ cancers, and the best we can offer people with existing treatments is a few months of extra survival,” says Dr Arsalan Azad from the University of Cambridge. “There’s an important unmet need for new, effective treatments.”





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