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Biotech Medicine Science

Golden Nanocages To Put the Heat On Cancer Cells 97

ElectricSteve writes "Researchers have been searching for a highly targeted medical treatment that attacks cancer cells but leaves healthy tissue alone. The approach taken by scientists at Washington University in St. Louis is to use 'gold nanocages' that, when injected, selectively accumulate in tumors. When the tumors are later bathed in laser light, the surrounding tissue is barely warmed, but the nanocages convert light to heat, killing the malignant cells. ... Although the tumors took up enough gold nanocages to give them a black cast, only 6 percent of the injected particles accumulated at the tumor site. They would like that number to be closer to 40 percent so that fewer particles would have to be injected. They plan to attach tailor-made ligands to the nanocages that recognize and lock onto receptors on the surface of the tumor cells. ... The scientists at WUSTL have just received a five-year, $2.1M grant from the National Cancer Institute to continue their work with photothermal therapy." Note that Gizmag features a stupid Subscribe nag that covers your screen after about a minute; sounds like a job for NoScript. Last year we discussed somewhat similar research using titanium dioxide nanoparticles to target a particular kind of brain cancer.
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Golden Nanocages To Put the Heat On Cancer Cells

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  • by Pareto Efficient ( 1622141 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @01:43AM (#31492234)
    This reminds me of reading about the middle ages practice of the wealthy eating powdered precious and semi precious metals and gemstones to cure ailments.
  • by CoolGopher ( 142933 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @01:53AM (#31492276)

    If you mod me down, I will become more powerful than you can imagine....

    I'd like to put this to the test, but first I will have to source some outside funding of mod points. It's all in the name of SCIENCE! =D

  • by VeasMKII ( 1373385 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @02:09AM (#31492354)
    Cancer is actually a biological age limitation. []
  • by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @02:47AM (#31492480)

    Topically, like in socks, or in a petri dish, yes, silver is antibacterial, and it does has legitimate usage. In your body, not so much. I don't think anyone has ever been able to demonstrate that it will do anything for people (besides maybe give you argyria). So in this case there is a very small grain of truth hidden in the alt-med woo-woo, but not enough to make it sensible medical advice.

  • by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <> on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @05:40AM (#31493080)

    it's the result of cells escaping the limitations of age

    Yes, a cell becomes cancerous when it manages to mutate away the multiple redundant control mechanisms that prevent unchecked growth, one of which is the telomere length. (It acts as sort of a biological version of an IP TTL field.) That having been done, a cell can not only escape the normal age limits, but actually become an organism in its own right [].

    However, you have to take into account that mutations are cumulative, and that as we become older, the probability that any one cell will have all the necessary mutations to become cancerous skyrockets. The effect is that cancer (or let's call it "cumulative chromosomal corruption") has been one of the limiting factors on age.

    Yes, it looks increasingly likely that we can keep cancer at bay. But we run into other problems: congestive heart failure and degenerative neural diseases are next on the list of problems to beat. In the long view, we're ultimately limited by the capacity of our brains. In our lifetimes, it'll probably be possible to keep our bodies alive indefinitely. But if we're senile and insensitive, what difference does it make?

    The ultimate solution, of course, is the famous transhumanist dream: uploading our minds to different, and presumably more durable, containers. And though I can hope for that, I don't see that technology being available in the lifetime of anyone reading this message. It's more plausible that we'll end our days in reasonable physical shape, but with minds as helpless as those of children.

  • by mattack2 ( 1165421 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @06:36PM (#31502434)

    Sheesh, I don't like Fox News either, but that is an *actual* news article, with a picture showing the ailment being discussed.

You are always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk.