A new gold standard: Using gold to eliminate cancerous tumors

May 7, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Gold isn't exactly what comes to mind when you think of treatments for cancer. But researchers at Ohio University are exploring whether the metallic element can actually save lives.

Michael Carlson, a third-year doctoral student in chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio University, is studying how small particles of gold, heated by a laser, can kill malignant cells.

In 2005, researchers from the University of Southern California and the Georgia Institute of Technology discovered that nanoparticles (tinier than the diameter of a human red blood cell) of gold can attach themselves to cancer cells and absorb enough heat to destroy them. The particles also made it easier for doctors to identify tumors on the computer screens used to navigate surgeries in the operating room, which, in turn, helped the surgeons to attack and remove the cancerous tissue.

Carlson and his advisor, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Hugh Richardson, are conducting further studies to learn more about the process of how these relatively non-toxic gold particles combat the tumors. They hope to compile more data in order to help develop and refine the technology for medical treatments.

“Current treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation are pretty invasive procedures that harm the sick patient,” Carlson explained. “The ultimate goal would be to successfully use gold nanoparticles to non-invasively destroy the tumor.”

Richardson and his colleagues have been studying the heating of at Ohio University since 2005. He has published more than 11 scientific articles about the in metal nanoparticles.

In the new studies, Carlson and Richardson examine the heat generated by the as they absorb the light energy of the laser. This will help other researchers determine what happens to the cancer cells before they are killed.

“It is obvious that the cells are becoming hot, but we want to know if the energy simply dissipates from the cell, if the cell melts, or if a bubble forms inside the cell where the cell then explodes,” Carlson said. “Or it may be something completely different.”

So far, the scientists have found that the laser allows the gold particles to reach a heat that is ten times hotter than the boiling point of water. Carlson’s research also suggests that the gold nanostructures’ change in temperature reaches a threshold, despite the amount of energy applied to the particles, which is indicative of possible micro-bubble formation.

Originally interested in becoming a doctor, Carlson was attracted to cancer research because of its ability to help large numbers of people.

“If you can create a way to help people rather than a single individual, like developing a mechanism that is applicable to all cancer patients, you are doing a great thing,” he said.

Explore further: Gold nanoparticles show potential for noninvasive cancer treatment

Related Stories

Nanorods show benefits cancer treatment

March 14, 2006

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of California, San Francisco, have found an even more effective and safer way to detect and kill cancer cells. By changing the shapes of gold nanospheres ...

Targeting tumors using tiny gold particles

May 4, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- It has long been known that heat is an effective weapon against tumor cells. However, it's difficult to heat patients' tumors without damaging nearby tissues.

Using Gold Nanoparticles to Hit Cancer Where It Hurts

February 15, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Taking gold nanoparticles to the cancer cell and hitting them with a laser has been shown to be a promising tool in fighting cancer, but what about cancers that occur in places where a laser light can’t ...

Recommended for you

Designing ultrasound tools with Lego-like proteins

August 25, 2016

Ultrasound imaging is used around the world to help visualize developing babies and diagnose disease. Sound waves bounce off the tissues, revealing their different densities and shapes. The next step in ultrasound technology ...

Nanovesicles in predictable shapes

August 25, 2016

Beads, disks, bowls and rods: scientists at Radboud University have demonstrated the first methodological approach to control the shapes of nanovesicles. This opens doors for the use of nanovesicles in biomedical applications, ...

Graphene under pressure

August 25, 2016

Small balloons made from one-atom-thick material graphene can withstand enormous pressures, much higher than those at the bottom of the deepest ocean, scientists at the University of Manchester report.

'Artificial atom' created in graphene

August 22, 2016

In a tiny quantum prison, electrons behave quite differently as compared to their counterparts in free space. They can only occupy discrete energy levels, much like the electrons in an atom - for this reason, such electron ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet May 07, 2010
Well well, a new therapy that has intrinsic value!
The golden "silver bullet"!
Nanogold and lasers reminds me of something, oh yeah, Iron and high frequency magnetism from 20 years ago.
And Iron is already present in cancer cells.
Here is just one link: http://www.azunim...ics.html
Here's an even better one on iron:http://www.artemi...cer.html

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.