Gold nanoparticles used to treat brain tumours
Article date: 10 September 2014
Experimental brain cancer treatment that involves 'smuggling' gold nanoparticles into the affected area of the body has so far proven to show promising results.
The innovative method, which has been referred to by some experts as a 'trojan horse' approach to medicine, could eventually be used by specialists to treat one of the most common and aggressive forms of this type of the disease, known as glioblastoma multiforme.
This particular strain of brain cancer often results in the person who has been diagnosed with it dying within a matter of months, while the five-year survival rate is just six in every 100 patients.
Led by professor Mark Welland and Dr Colin Watts, the study is featured in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Nanoscale and so yielded evidence to suggest that the treatment is effective in killing cancer cells.
It works by creating nanostructures that are made up of gold and the chemotherapy drug cisplatin, which are then released into tumour cells.
The nanospheres are then exposed to radiotherapy, which causes the gold to release electrons that boost the performance of cisplatin by disrupting the structure of the cells and damaging their DNA.
When analysing their results 20 days later, scientists found no evidence that the cells had been revived.
Dr Watts said: "We need to be able to hit the cancer cells directly with more than one treatment at the same time. This is important because some cancer cells are more resistant to one type of treatment than another."
He added that nanotechnology gave them the ability to hit the cancer with a "double whammy", opening the door for the development of new treatment options in the future.
According to official figures, around 5,000 malignant brain tumours are diagnosed in the UK every year.