Treatment of cancer has
progressed over the years. From being an incurable condition, today several
cancers can be cured especially in the early stages. However, side effects from chemotherapy
to be a challenge. Targeted treatments with medications that more specifically
attack cancer cells without damaging normal cells have reduced the adverse
effects of the treatment.
‘Radiation emitting particles prove that gold particles target telomerase-positive cancer cells.’
Gold is no longer a
metal that is useful only as jewelry. It is now used in several other spheres
of life including medicine.
their use in various diagnostic procedures like immunochromatography and dot
immunoassay. In addition, anticancer medications can be packed into the
nanoparticles which carry the drug to the cancerous target, thereby reducing
side effects to normal body tissues.
conducted their studies using a drug that targets the enzyme telomerase in the
cancer cells. Every chromosome has caps at its ends called telomeres
telomeres protect the chromosome, so that the cell can divide correctly.
As the cell divides
repeatedly, the size of the telomeres decreases and it finally becomes so short
that the cell cannot divide any further. This reduces the regenerative capacity
of tissues with age. The length of the telomeres is maintained by the enzyme
telomerase. Cancer cells have increased
telomerase activity, due to which the cells continue to multiply and result in
a cancerous growth
researchers tagged the gold particles with a small dose of radiation
. Due to the
radiation, it was possible for the researchers to study the movement of the
gold particles into the cancerous cells. The experiment was conducted on cells
obtained from a skin cancer called melanoma which were telomerase positive and
grown in the laboratory.
researchers were able to demonstrate that the gold particles reached the
desired site in the cancer cells and shut telomerase down, thereby stopping the
growth of the cancer calls
Adding radiation to the
gold particles not only helps to study the passage of the gold particles into
cancer cells, but the radiation also causes some damage to the cancer cells and
therefore could provide additional benefit. The cells which are already damaged
by the drug in the gold nanoparticles become more sensitive to radiation, and
therefore can be killed more easily.
Further advancements in
this field including clinical trials could make using the treatment in humans a
- Bas Bavelaar, Lei Song, Mark Jackson, Philip
Waghorn, Katherine Vallis. Gold nanoparticle radiopharmaceuticals for the
selective treatment of telomerase-positive tumours. Poster presentation. 2016 National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer conference.
- Gold nanoparticle radiopharmaceuticals for the
selective treatment of telomerase-positive tumours - (http://abstracts.ncri.org.uk/abstract/gold-nanoparticle-radiopharmaceuticals-for-the-selective-treatment-of-telomerase-positive-tumours/)
- Dykman LA, Khlebtsov
NG. Gold Nanoparticles in Biology and Medicine: Recent Advances and Prospects.
Acta Naturae. 2011 Apr-Jun; 3(2): 34-55.