Written by Loren Grush
Gold may have more than just monetary value. It may be an effective tool against fighting deadly forms of cancer as well.
Scientists from the University of Missouri have discovered a way to target prostate tumors by using radioactive gold nanoparticles in combination with a compound found in tea leaves. They say the treatment could be drastically less harmful than chemotherapy options.
Currently, cancer patients require large doses of chemotherapy to help eradicate their cancer cells. However, while the chemicals help to shrink tumors, they also spread throughout other parts of the body, harming vital organs and causing various adverse health effects.
According to this most recent study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the new gold/tea treatment would require doses that are thousands of times smaller than typical chemotherapy. The compound also travels directly to the tumor’s source without spreading throughout the rest of the body and causing harm to other areas.
“These types of chemicals in tea have the properties capable of converting gold salt into nanoparticles,” Kattesh Katti, senior research scientist at the MU Research Reactor as well as the study’s lead author, told FoxNews.com. “They are found in all teas - green tea, black tea, etc. These chemicals have an affinity to the chemicals that are in the prostate cancer cells. So they take these nanoparticles and keep them within the tumor for as long as it takes to eliminate the tumor.”
“We were able to reduce the tumor size by 70 to 80 percent,” Katti added.
In order to combat the tumor cells, the gold was initially given radiochemical properties, allowing it to emit beta rays which shrink the tumor.
“It’s actually a fairly simple process,” Cathy Cutler, research professor at the MU Research Reactor and co-author of the study, told FoxNews.com. “We take just natural gold, and we more or less eradiate it in the research reactor,” which according to Katti is one of the few places in the world able to produce therapeutic radioisotopes.