Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fry, Cancer Cells! FRY!

An interesting new approach to killing cancer cells that are resistant to other treatments. I wonder if one could collect the "cleared" gold particles and make oneself a nice little charm for one's bracelet?

Gold-covered nanoparticles might make cancer cells unable to stand the heat - Los Angeles Times:
"Drugs and radiation can beat back tumors, but some cancer cells usually survive the assault. So researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston fortified their arsenal with gold-covered nanoparticles that embed themselves in tumors and bake them to temperatures of 108 degrees when activated with an infrared laser.

In their experiments, treating mice with heat plus standard radiation cleared breast cancer tumors better than either therapy alone. The researchers ... hope to try the approach in people soon.

... Researchers are pursuing a variety of treatment possibilities with gold particles because they are safe delivery vehicles. Gold does not react with molecules in the body, and the particles are naturally cleared from circulation.

A tumor is not a uniform blob; it's made up of different kinds of cells fed by a network of blood vessels. Most of these cells fall to the medical onslaught of chemotherapy or radiation. But others — which some researchers think of as cancer stem cells — stand firm. Radiation damages their DNA, but they stitch it back together. These stem cells are the ones that multiply to make more cancer cells, so unless doctors can destroy them, tumors are likely to return.

Some scientists compare the challenge to weeding dandelions — regular drugs only lop off the flowers, but what matters are treatments that kill the stem cells that are the cancer's root.

In people. Rosen envisons a once-a-week heating treatment, lasting about half an hour, piggybacked onto a regular course of radiation. It's not certain if patients would feel the warming, but scientists don't think it would be too uncomfortable because the heated area is so small. The infrared laser is harmless to healthy tissue. The main safety concern ... is that the heat could damage nearby cells. But since the warming is precise ... the technique has promise."


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