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Growing Gold Inside a Tumor Can Kill Cancer Cells. Wait, What?

The method grows gold nanoparticles in the body that can help with imaging, and be heated up to kill the tumors.

A recent New Atlas article discussed an innovative new cancer treatment that sounds more like alchemy than medicine. Fighting cancer with gold isn’t a new concept; scientists have used a variety of nanoparticle structures in the past, but the issue is getting them inside the tumors. The new method solves this by growing the gold directly inside the cancer cells, which is quicker and requires a lower concentration of gold than previous methods.

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The team behind the method used polyethylene glycol as a delivery vector for ionic gold. When it meets the cancer, the acidic microenvironment converts the gold from an ionic form to plasmonic gold particles in as little as 30 minutes. The concept was tested in mice by growing gold nanoparticles inside the tumors, and then heating them with lasers to kill the cancer cells.

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