Gold Could Play Key Role in Cancer Treatment
In recent years, gold has been increasingly valued for its use in various technological applications. In a report late last year, the World Gold Council reported the demand for gold in the technology sector has been growing since 2016 and that growth is continuing to accelerate due to new innovations.
Some of the most amazing developments utilizing the yellow metal have been in the field of medicine. For instance, researchers at the University of Queensland have developed a blood test using gold nanoparticles that could help oncologists in their treatment of cancer patients. According to the university, the test will provide doctors with an early and more accurate prognosis of how cancer treatment is progressing and help guide ongoing therapy.
Researchers say the new monitoring technology is “worth its weight in gold.”
UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology PhD student Jing Wang said the simple nanotechnology allows doctors to monitor changes in circulating tumor cells. This helps them determine whether a cancer is attempting to spread and reveal its response to treatment.
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) have been shed by the original tumor and entered the bloodstream – they can then form into new tumors if they lodge in distant tissue. We have developed a simple technology which uses a special type of gold nanoparticle attached to different antibodies, which can stick to different proteins on a wide variety of CTCs These nanoparticles emit a unique barcoded signal when hit with laser light, and this signal changes ever so slightly if that nanoparticle encounters a CTC and sticks to it, making them easy to detect.”
Researchers say they hope they can incorporate this gold nanoparticle technology into a simple, handheld device.
Olivia Newton John Cancer Research Institute’s Medical Director Jonathan Cebon said the ability to gather information about changes at a cellular level could potentially guide cancer therapy in real-time.
Signs of drug resistance can be identified which can help doctors and patients make informed decisions about treatment. The technology could also greatly improve our ability to study how tumor cells change in response to treatment and could help answer important biological questions about how treatment resistance arises.”
This is just the latest in a series of discoveries utilizing gold in the realm of medicine.
Over the last few years, scientists have developed a number of cancer treatments using gold nanoparticles. Researchers in Mumbai recently moved a step closer to treating surface tumors caused by oral, breast and cervical cancer, along with other tumors such melanoma and colon cancer, through photothermal ablation using gold-polymer nanoparticles and near-infrared light. Scientists at UC Berkeley have developed a process using gold to repair the mutation that causes Duchenne muscular dystrophy. And earlier this year, a team of Chinese researchers announced they were able to partially restored the sight of blind mice by replacing their deteriorated photoreceptors – sensory structures inside the eye that respond to light – with nano-wires made of gold and titanium.
The use of gold in the field of medicine, and more broadly in technology and industry, will likely put upward pressure on demand for the yellow metal in the future. The amount of gold used in technology was roughly equal to the amount purchased by central banks between 2010 and 2016. This fundamental driver of demand will only increase the overall value of the yellow metal.
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