And very small. We're getting closer all the time, folks:
Gold "nano-bullets" could seek and destroy inoperable human cancers, suggest new studies by US scientists.
The tiny silica particles are plated with gold and heat up when near infrared light (NIR) is shone on them. This kills the cancer cells. Tests on human breast cancers, both in the test tube and in tumours in mice, were highly successful, the researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"The nanoshells are designed to absorb near infrared light and convert that light to heat," explains Jennifer West, who led the study at Rice University, Houston, Texas. This is possible because the body's normal tissues are "essentially transparent" to NIR.
But does it work?
When the nanoshells were added to human breast cancer cells in the test tube, and then exposed to both NIR, 100 per cent were killed, says West. "And we saw no changes in cell viability with just nanoshells or just the laser - it's a true on/off situation."
The team also injected the nanoshells directly into the tumours of living mice and applied NIR. The tumours were destroyed within days.
Now all we need is a way to detect these tumors while they're still tiny. This nano-bullet approach can potentially prevent cancer from returning as well as from ever getting a foothold in the first place.
Posted by Phil at November 4, 2003 06:55 AM
UPDATE: Meanwhile, keep drinking tea and eating ginger snaps.