All that glitters is not gold. Sometimes it is cancer.
How about gold-plated cancer?
We can do that now, or more technically: gold nanoparticles infused with an antibody called cetuximab attach to growth factors (EGFR) expressed on the surface of some cancer cells. In other words, bind just the right antibodies to gold nanoparticles, inject them into tissue, and cancer cells will be covered with gold.
Ok, you get gold to stick to cancer cells like socks stick to a sweater pulled from a dryer. What a waste of money, right?
Well, no. First, although they’re not cheep, don’t go rushing to the gold exchange with jar filled with nano-gold-slush. You won’t get much for it there. The gold nanoparticles are spheres of gold less than 100 nanometers (nm) in diameter. To put the size in perspective, 100 nm is about 500 times smaller than the diameter of human hair.
Second, according to a paper released by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, you can zap the gold-targeted cancer cells with shortwave radiofrequency (RF) energy. “Exposure of cells to a noninvasive RF field produced nearly 100% cytotoxicity in cells treated with the cetuximab-conjugated gold nanoparticles, but significantly lower levels of cytotoxicity in the two control groups (P < 0.00012).” In other words, the cancer cells died, and the normal cells lived.
Shortwave RF penetrates deeply into the body with no adverse side effects, as long as you’re not entirely made of gold. Like putting a fork in the microwave oven, it kills the cancer cells by heating them up. Now in this study, it only worked with two types of cancer cells: ones for pancreatic and colorectal cancer (Panc-1 or Difi cells), but similar methods may be available for different cancers. In another study (How could gold save my life?), it was shown that the same method might also be used to detect breast cancer.
Thanks guys. Great work!
Video courtesy Kathryn Dean via YouTube.
See the soon-to-be-published science fiction novel Recruiting Angles for bio-nanotechnolgy in action.