Metal nanoparticles may improve cancer treatment

November 30, 2012
Metal nanoparticles may improve cancer treatment
The research team developed a detector to measure the radiation dose in three dimensions.

Research led by RMIT University has shown that cheap, non-toxic nanoparticles can enhance radiotherapy treatments for cancer.

An international team of researchers led by RMIT has investigated alternatives to , which have been shown to concentrate used to treat cancer but are highly expensive and mildly toxic.

Doctoral researcher Mamdooh Alqathami said the team had identified bismuth as an ideal option, with tests showing that enhancing radiotherapy by using nanoparticles containing the heavy metal almost doubled the dose of radiation to surrounding .

"By enhancing radiation in the tumour, doctors may be able to decrease the initial dose of radiotherapy, which will hopefully result in fewer side effects for the patient while having the same impact on the cancer," Mr Alqathami, a researcher in the School of Medical Sciences, said.

" have shown promise in improving the efficacy of radiotherapy but there is a need to find cheaper and safer alternatives for therapeutic use.

"Bismuth-based nanoparticles are an attractive option as they cost only a few dollars per gram, compared with thousands of dollars a gram for gold, and they are non-toxic, reducing any side effects from potential treatments.

"While further work needs to be done before our findings can be implemented into conventional cancer treatments, this is an exciting advance that gives us a promising focus for ongoing research."

Mr Alqathami collaborated with researchers from RMIT's Health Innovations Research Institute, the University of Melbourne, the University of Surrey (UK) and the Institute of Cancer Research (UK) on the study.

To test the efficacy of bismuth, Mr Alqathami placed the nanoparticles inside a detector developed by his team to measure the radiation dose in .

The sample and detector was exposed to radiation that would normally be used to treat cancers. The final dose delivered was then compared with normal treatments, showing the bismuth-based nanoparticles increased the by 90 per cent.

The team is planning further tests to validate the findings and fully understand the dosage increase, to enable the findings to be implemented in treatment.

This research was presented at the International Conference on 3D Radiation Dosimetery recently held in Sydney.

Explore further: NPL unveils new equipment to make cancer treatment safer

Related Stories

NPL unveils new equipment to make cancer treatment safer

November 14, 2008

A new piece of medical technology unveiled at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) today will help improve the success rates of radiotherapy cancer treatments. The new clinical electron linear accelerator (linac) will help ...

Recommended for you

Reshaping the solar spectrum to turn light to electricity

July 28, 2015

When it comes to installing solar cells, labor cost and the cost of the land to house them constitute the bulk of the expense. The solar cells—made often of silicon or cadmium telluride—rarely cost more than 20 percent ...

Could stronger, tougher paper replace metal?

July 24, 2015

Researchers at the University of Maryland recently discovered that paper made of cellulose fibers is tougher and stronger the smaller the fibers get. For a long time, engineers have sought a material that is both strong (resistant ...

Changing the color of light

July 23, 2015

Researchers at the University of Delaware have received a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to explore a new idea that could improve solar cells, medical imaging and even cancer treatments. Simply put, they want ...

Wafer-thin material heralds future of wearable technology

July 27, 2015

UOW's Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials (ISEM) has successfully pioneered a way to construct a flexible, foldable and lightweight energy storage device that provides the building blocks for next-generation ...

0 comments

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.