Researchers have identified non-toxic nanoparticles that can make radiotherapy more affordable and also minimize its side-effects in cancer treatment.
An international team, led by Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), studied alternatives to gold particles, such as bismuth-based nanoparticles.
Gold nanoparticles have been shown to concentrate radiation used in cancer but are highly expensive and mildly toxic, according to an RMIT statement.
Doctoral researcher Mamdooh Alqathami from RMIT said the team identified bismuth as an ideal option, whose nanoparticles almost doubled the dose of radiation to surrounding cancerous tissue.
"Bismuth-based nanoparticles are an attractive option as they cost only a few dollars per gram, compared with thousands of dollars a gram for gold, and they are non-toxic, reducing any side-effects from potential treatments," said Alqathami, researcher at the RMIT School of Medical Sciences.
"By enhancing radiation in the tumor, doctors may be able to decrease the initial dose of radiotherapy, which will hopefully result in fewer side-effects for the patient while having the same impact on the cancer," said Alqathami.
"While further work needs to be done before our findings can be implemented into conventional cancer treatments, this is an exciting advance that gives us a promising focus for ongoing research," Alqathami added.
He collaborated with researchers from RMIT's Health Innovations Research Institute, the University of Melbourne, the UK's University of Surrey and the Institute of Cancer Research.