In a first, gold nanopar­ti­cles used to zap prostate cancer cells

The Hindu Business Line - - VARIETY -

Sci­en­tists are us­ing gold nanopar­ti­cles that act as tu­mourseek­ing mis­siles to tar­get prostate cancer, in a first-of-it­skind clin­i­cal trial.

The nanopar­ti­cles or nanoshells, are made of small lay­ers of sil­ica glass formed into a sphere and wrapped in a thin layer of gold.

The shells seek out and sat­u­rate can­cer­ous cells, and their ad­vanced vi­bra­tional prop­er­ties are then har­nessed to cause the tu­mor­ous tis­sue to pulse with ex­treme tem­per­a­ture when light is ap­plied through a laser specif­i­cally de­signed to ex­cite the par­ti­cles.

The os­cil­la­tion kills the cancer cells while pre­serv­ing the healthy tis­sue, avoid­ing the nerves and uri­nary sphinc­ter. This pro­ce­dure is the first in the world that is pre­cise enough to po­ten­tially avoid neg­a­tive ram­i­fi­ca­tions such as uri­nary in­con­ti­nence or sex­ual im­po­tency.

“This ther­apy could be lifechang­ing for men di­ag­nosed with prostate cancer and I am hon­oured to be among the first doc­tors the US Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­proved to put it to the test,” said Steven Can­field from The Univer­sity of Texas in the US.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer be­gins when cells in a man’s prostate gland mu­tate and start to grow un­con­trol­lably.

Treat­ment op­tions have tra­di­tion­ally in­cluded rad­i­cal prosta­te­c­tomy, which is the re­moval of the prostate gland and some of the tis­sue around it; ra­di­a­tion ther­apy and cryother­apy. Th­ese meth­ods carry the po­ten­tial to have a neg­a­tive im­pact on uri­nary func­tion and sex­ual per­for­mance.

“The side-ef­fects of cur­rent prostate cancer treat­ments can be ex­tremely trau­matic. This new tech­nol­ogy holds the po­ten­tial to elim­i­nate those life-al­ter­ing ef­fects, while still re­mov­ing the cancer tis­sue and re­duc­ing hos­pi­tal and re­cov­ery time,” Can­field said. The gold nanopar­ti­cles were in­vented by Naomi Halas, the head of Rice Univer­sity in the US.

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