Researchers use gold to fight asbestos-linked cancers – Dateway

Gold nanotubes – tiny hollow cylinders one-thousandth the width of a human hair – could be used to treat mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

In a study published today in the journal Small, researchers show that once inside cancer cells, nanotubes absorb light, causing them to heat up, thereby killing cells.

Over 2,600 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK each year, a malignant form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Although the use of asbestos is now banned in the UK, the country has the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world, as it imported large amounts of asbestos in the post-war years. Global asbestos use remains high, especially in low and middle income countries, meaning that mesothelioma will become a global problem.

“Mesothelioma is one of the ‘hard to treat’ cancers, and the best we can offer people with existing treatments is a few more months of survival,” said Dr Arsalan Azad of the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research at the ‘University of Cambridge. . “There is an unmet need for new effective treatments.”

In 2018, the University of Cambridge received £ 10million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to help develop engineering solutions, including nanotechnology, to find ways to fight cancer difficult to deal with.

As part of a collaboration between the University of Cambridge and the University of Leeds, researchers have developed a form of gold nanotubes whose physical properties are “ tunable ” – in other words, the team can tailor wall thickness, microstructure, composition and the ability to absorb wavelengths of light.

The researchers added the nanotubes to mesothelioma cells grown in the lab and found that they were taken up by cells, residing near the nucleus, where the cell’s DNA is located. When the team targeted the cells with a laser, the nanotubes absorbed light and warmed up, killing the mesothelioma cell.

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Professor Stefan Marciniak, also from the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, added: “Mesothelioma cells ‘eat’ nanotubes, making them vulnerable when we light them up. Laser light can penetrate deep into tissue without causing damage to surrounding tissue. It is then taken up by the nanotubes, which heat up and hopefully in the future could be used to cause localized destruction of cancer cells.

The team will further develop the work to ensure that nanotubes are targeted on cancer cells with less effect on normal tissue.

Nanotubes are made in a two-step process. First, solid silver nanorods are created of the desired diameter. Gold is then deposited from solution onto the surface of the silver. As gold accumulates on the surface, the silver dissolves from the inside to leave a hollow nanotube.

The approach advanced by the Leeds team allows these nanotubes to be developed at room temperature, which should make their large-scale manufacture more feasible.

Professor Stephen Evans from the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leeds said: “Controlling the size and shape of nanotubes allows us to tune them to absorb light where the tissue is transparent. and will allow them to be used for both. imaging and cancer treatment. The next step will be to load these nanotubes with drugs for improved therapies.

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