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Gold Fillings for a Tumor

  1. Sep 17, 2003 #1

    LURCH

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    Just read this month's Pop Sci, and the article on using gold nanospheres in cancer detection and treatment was pretty encouraging. Obviously, there are many steps between an encouraging new idea and a working treatment, but Halas and West have a three million dollar grant and are ready to go to human test subjects within the next year.

    The idea depends on a ball of layered gold 100 nm wide. These nanoshells must attach themselves to cancer cells by antibodies with which their surface is coated. Now, my knowledge of cancer research is woefully thin but, I was not aware that we had antibodies capable of identifying a cancer cell! Can somebody give me more information on these?

    At any rate, the new technique could detect cancer "possibly six or seven years before other technologies do," according to the manager who gave these researchers the grant. For tumors caught that early, it is believed that treatment could take place in that same office visit.

    EDITED Sep 20 for typo
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2003
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  3. Sep 17, 2003 #2
    That's great! I have a friend who's wife is dying of cancer now (though we're still hopeful). I also had a friend that died of cancer a couple of years back. I really hate cancer, and am glad to hear any news on the fight against it.
     
  4. Sep 17, 2003 #3

    Another God

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    We recently had a news story on research which has managed to produce a drug which targetted a protein only produced by cancer cells. The story made it sound basically as if we had a specific 'Cancer Drug', and although side effects were still to be worked out more, it certainly shouldn't be as bad as the non-specific chemotherapy drugs that are used currently.

    I find it quite strange that cancer should make a protein which no other cells in our body do. But meh...I guess the years to come will answer all these things for us.
     
  5. Sep 20, 2003 #4

    Tsu

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    Chemo is truly the pits. I don't know about the newest drugs, but years ago, when nurses were drawing up the drug to infuse patients, they had to wear gloves because if they got a drop of it on their skin, it would actually begin to 'burn' it. Imagine that stff coursing through your bloodstream... Yecht!!!! Of course, it was (heavily) mixed with a diluting agent (saline, dextrose, etc.), but still... No wonder people get so sick with it.
     
  6. Sep 20, 2003 #5

    LURCH

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    That would be one of the great advantages, treatment would be done using the same gold nanoshells. The shells would be of such diameter as to be receptive to near-infrared radiation. Once they are injected into the bloodstream and given time to locate cancerous cells, a near-infrared light is shown over the patient's body. After that, the body is viewed through a scope, in which any nano shells retaining residual heat will "glow". A cluster of these will designate the location of a tumor.

    If such a tumor is found to be present, the light is turned back on, and left on for a minute or two. Each nano shell heats up, cooking the cell to which it is attached without causing damage to neighboring cells.
     
  7. Sep 20, 2003 #6

    Another God

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    But cancer cells are our cells. Their surface proteins are essentially identical to the surface proteins of every other cell in our body (or at least in their tissue). For this to work, they would need to identify cell surface receptors which differentiate Cancer cells from normal cells. When they can do that, then they have cancer beat no matter how they want to do it...

    Or have I missed something?
     
  8. Sep 21, 2003 #7

    FZ+

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    http://www.sciencewatch.com/march-april2000/sw_march-april2000_page7.htm

    These nanospheres appear more sophisticated than we've guess, eh?
     
  9. Sep 21, 2003 #8

    Another God

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    Ahhh yes, well see, that makes a lot more sense. AS i said, cancer cells would essentially express the same surface proteins as every other cell in our body (maybe minus some control proteins), but of course, their DNA would be slightly altered (Telomerase may be expressed, p54(?) Tumour supressing gene would be mutated etc...), so all they need to do is design oligoprobes that have a sequence which matches the most common cancer associated mutations and there you go: A cancer specific targeter.

    Of course they would need to put many different olgiprobes in, because the ways mutations could occur could be vast. This then would also run the risk of binding non-specifically to non-cancerous cells, but the percantage of non-specific binding vs the percentage of specific cancer binding would make the sacrifice of those few good cells worth it :wink:.

    And, the fact that they are using Gold Molecules which are nanometers long is relevent, because it is really hard to get things into cells from outside cells (at least, it is in a living body). Having something nanometers big though is another story. Nanometers can get straight through Membranes without issue. I just wonder how the 24bp oligosequence affects this. I would have thought it couldn't fit through without some sort of assistance, and then once it was in, chances are the cellular defences would attack it and try to break it down.

    The obvious reply to this if they cant avoid it, would be simply to flood the body with tons of the probes...
     
  10. Sep 22, 2003 #9

    LURCH

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    Thanks FZ+, that's exactly the info I was looking for!:smile:
     
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