It is hoped that the tiny fragments of the precious metal can help reduce side effects of current chemotherapy treatments
Tiny gold particles could be used to reduce the side effects of cancer treatments, new research has suggested.
Scientists at Edinburgh University have just completed a study which shows gold increased the effectiveness of drugs used to treat lung cancer cells.
Minute fragments of gold, known as gold nanoparticles, were encased in a chemical device by the research team.
The device was shown to be effective after being implanted in the brain of a zebrafish, suggesting it can be used in living animals, the Independent reported.
While this has not yet been tested on humans, the device could one day be used to reduce side effects of current chemotherapy treatments by precisely targeting diseased cells without damaging healthy tissue.
Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta, from the University of Edinburgh’s Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Edinburgh Centre, said: “We have discovered new properties of gold that were previously unknown and our findings suggest that the metal could be used to release drugs inside tumours very safely.
“There is still work to do before we can use this on patients, but this study is a step forward. We hope that a similar device in humans could one day be implanted by surgeons to activate chemotherapy directly in tumours and reduce harmful effects to healthy organs.”