Gold nanoparticles and tea compound treat prostate cancer with fewer side effects than chemotherapy

Currently, large doses of chemotherapy are required when treating certain forms of cancer, resulting in toxic side effects. The chemicals enter the body and work to destroy or shrink the tumor, but also harm vital organs and drastically affect bodily functions. Now, University of Missouri scientists have found a more efficient way of targeting prostate tumors by using gold nanoparticles and a compound found in tea leaves. This new treatment would require doses that are thousands of times smaller than chemotherapy and do not travel through the body inflicting damage to healthy areas. The study is being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"In our study, we found that a special compound in tea was attracted to in the prostate," said Kattesh Katti, curators' professor of radiology and physics in the School of Medicine and the College of Arts and Science and senior research scientist at the MU Research Reactor. "When we combined the tea compound with radioactive gold nanoparticles, the tea compound helped 'deliver' the nanoparticles to the site of the tumors and the nanoparticles destroyed the tumor cells very efficiently."

Drs. Kattesh Katti and Cathy Cutler, and their colleagues, have found that gold nanoparticles, when combined with a compound found in tea, can fight aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Credit: University of Missouri

Currently, doctors treat by injecting hundreds of radioactive 'seeds' into the prostate. However, that treatment is not effective when treating an aggressive form of prostate cancer, said Cathy Cutler, research professor at the MU Research Reactor and co-author of the study. The size of the seeds and their inability to deliver effective doses hampers their ability to stop the aggressive form of prostate cancer.

In the study, the MU scientists created nanoparticles that are just the right size. Instead of hundreds of injections, the team only used one or two injections, and the nanoparticles were more likely to stay very close to the tumor sites.

Cutler and Katti have been working with colleagues Raghuraman Kannan, Anandhi Upendran, Charles Caldwell as well as others in the Department of Radiology and at the MU Research Reactor to develop and design the nanoparticles to the correct shape and size to treat prostate cancer. If the nanoparticles produced are too small, they can escape and spread; if they are made large enough, the nanoparticles will stay inside the tumor and treat it much more effectively than current methods.

"Current therapy for this disease is not effective in those patients who have aggressive prostate cancer tumors," Cutler said. "Most of the time, prostate cancers are slow-growing; the disease remains localized and it is easily managed. Aggressive forms of the disease spread to other parts of the body, and it is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in U.S. men. However, we believe the gold nanoparticles could shrink the tumors, both those that are slow-growing and aggressive, or eliminate them completely."

"This treatment is successful due to the inherent properties of radioactive gold nanoparticles," Kannan said. "First, the gold nanoparticles should be made to the correct size, and second, they have very favorable radiochemical properties, including a very short half-life."

With a half-life of only 2.7 days, the radioactivity from the gold nanoparticles is finished within three weeks.

"Because of their size and the compound found in tea, the nanoparticles remain at the tumor sites," Upendran said. "This helps the nanoparticles maintain a high level of effectiveness, resulting in significant tumor volume reduction within 28 days of treatment."

In the current study, the team tested the nanoparticles on mice. Prior to human trials, the scientists will study the treatment in dogs with prostate cancer. Prostate cancer in dogs is extremely close to the human form of the disease.

"When it comes to drug discovery, MU is fortunate because we have a combination of experts in cancer research, animal modeling, isotope production and nanomedicine, and state-of-the-art research infrastructure to take discoveries from 'the bench to the bedside' and never leave campus," Katti said. "For example, we developed the nanoparticles here at our research reactor, which is one of the few places in the world that produces therapeutic, clinical grade radioisotopes. We then tested the radioactive in small animals in collaboration with other radiology researchers using testing facilities located at the Harry S. Truman Veterans Hospital. Our next steps include partnering with the College of Veterinary Medicine to treat larger animals with the hopes of having human clinical trials, held on our campus, soon."

Katti, Cutler, Kannan, Upendran and Caldwell were joined in the study by Ravi Shukla, Nripen Chanda and Ajit Zambre, all from the Department of Radiology.

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Citation: Gold nanoparticles and tea compound treat prostate cancer with fewer side effects than chemotherapy (2012, July 16) retrieved 17 June 2019 from
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Jul 16, 2012
Excellent work! I know, this doesn't add anything to the article but it really is good news for many, many people otherwise doomed to high levels of stress and anxiety because of prostrate cancer. Stunning stuff.

Jul 16, 2012
It is actually crazy the way chemo has been applied "blindly" and by "brute force" to the body of cancer patients for so many years. It makes no sense whatsoever.

Similar work (using different targeting mechanisms) has been used in some complementary health clinics for years and has saved many lives so far! It is mind-boggling and disgusting that such ideas did not become commonplace in "mainstream" cancer treatment decades ago.

Jul 17, 2012
that such ideas did not become commonplace in "mainstream" cancer treatment decades ago.

Like with any technology: you first do it crudely and only gradually do you develop refined techniques that optimize the process. Hindsight is 20/20 and there is always someone who will say later on "but we could have done it perfectly from the start!".
Medical studies take a lot of time. Especially cancer mortality studies can take decades. Jumping to conclusions has never helped in science so far, so you'll probably have to get to grips with the fact that real science is not like in the movies where they slap together a new type of hyperdrive in 5 minutes.

Jul 17, 2012
This does lend credence to those "cures" associated with Gold injections for arthritis and reported efforts of Alchemists to extend lifespans, all anecdotal evidence for sure. ... What kinds of tea? Oolong? Green tea? ... Gold particles: but how small? Single atoms? Clusters of how many atoms? A mix of radioactive Gold and "regular" Gold atoms? Is it 195Au (186 day half life)? Is it a mix of 195Au, 196Au, 197Au (stable)?... And in what proportions, tea to Gold?

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