Heralded as one of the most valuable metals on the planet, gold has a long history of desirability across time and place
History shows it’s been revered by almost every civilization on Earth for more than 15,000 years.
And only now are we discovering just how useful it really is.
In the past few years, researchers have learned gold has many medical benefits.
Its use in fillings was long documented, its use in medical devices a more recent invention, and now there’s a reason to believe it may be useful at helping to prevent cancer.
Gold Could Help Fight Prostate Cancer
Researchers at the University of Texas are in the midst of an ongoing clinical trial where they’re using gold nanoparticles to fight prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in the developing world, and is expected to afflict in 1 in 9 American men.
Thus, any reasonable form of treatment discovered to help mitigate the growth and risk of cancer is taken seriously. While prostate cancer is generally survivable with a 99% non-mortality rate, typical treatments usually come with severe side effects including urinary incontinence and impotence.
Which is why researchers are investigating how gold nanoparticles could kill cancer.
The gold nanoparticles are tiny balls of silica coated in a film of gold capable of seeking out cancerous tumors and then entering them.
Once they’ve invaded the cancer cell, the cell is treated with a laser which causes the nanoparticles to vibrate and create extreme temperatures which kill the cancer.
Unlike chemotherapy or radiation, this kind of treatment is deemed safer since it doesn’t harm the surrounding tissue. In normal prostate cancer treatment surrounding tissues like the urinary sphincter as well as nerve fibers tend to be damaged.
This gold nanoparticle treatment doesn’t render that type of damage which helps keeps patients from suffering typical side effects associated with prostate cancer treatment.
Dr. Steven Canfield, chair of the division of urology at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth said his school is excited to see how well this treatment works. “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.”
If this technology works well in prostate cancer it leads physicians to believe it may have other uses in the future.
Medical News Today writes this about how the nanoparticles were discovered and how they were eventually incorporated into a treatment program at UTHealth.
“Naomi Halas, who is the head of Rice University’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics, invented the gold nanoparticles that this clinical trial uses.
Dr. Canfield realized that nanoparticle technology had real potential and worked closely with Halas to bring it to clinical trial.
While there are certainly current treatments that are successful in most cases of prostate cancer, the possibility of side effects or loss of function makes those treatment options a little less desirable.
If clinical trials that feature gold nanotechnology continue to have rewarding outcomes, it is possible that this treatment will, one day, become a genuine option for everyone who receives a diagnosis of prostate cancer.”