Gold Nanorods Shed Light On New Approach To Fighting Cancer

                                Gold shells can kill inoperable tumours
                                 By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
                                 (Filed: 04/11/2003)

                                 Tiny golden "nanoshells" offer a new way to kill
                                 inoperable tumours without harming surrounding
                                 tissue, according to a study published today.

                                 The shells, which consist of glass coated with gold,
                                 are called nanoshells because they are a few
                                 billionths of a metre (a nanometre) across, and mark
                                 another example of the burgeoning field of

                                 A Texan team, led by Dr Jennifer West at Rice
                                 University, claims that the shells could be used to
                                 treat tumours which have been hard to target until

                                 Most solid tumours are removed by surgery but
                                 there are some that are impossible to remove
                                 because they are so small, mingled with surrounding
                                 tissue or located within a vital organ or tissue.

                                 There are ways to deal with inoperable tumours but
                                 they often damage healthy tissue too. Now Dr
                                 West's team has found a way to kill these cells by
                                 combining two harmless treatments - nanoshells
                                 and infrared (heat) laser light which passes
                                 harmlessly through normal tissue.

                                 In today's Proceedings of the National Academy of
                                 Sciences, Dr West says her team designed the
                                 nanoshells to absorb this particular frequency of
                                 near-infrared light. The nanoshells warmed rapidly
                                 so that they could be used selectively to "cook" and
                                 kill tumours.


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