Gold nanotubes being zapped with lasers to treat a cancerous tumor (via University of Leeds)

Cancer is still a serious problem in the U.S. with more cases cropping up every year. There are lots of risky and costly treatments for the disease that are very limited for both doctors and patients. Thanks to a new study published by the University of Leeds, another option may be available for treatment.


Researchers at the university have found that gold nanotubes, which are gold nanoparticles that resemble drinking straws, may be used in the fight against cancer. The tubes can be used for imaging and destroying cancer cells. The procedure works by absorbing near-infared light frequencies that are zapped with lasers of varying brightness. A low brightness can be used to reveal tumors, while a higher contrast is used to kill nearby tumorous cells. The tube can also be utilized for delivering medicine as well.


A big benefit of the tubes is how they enter and leave the body with little hassle, meaning there shouldn't be risky side effects as seen with chemotherapy. In order to see the gold nanotubes in the body, the researchers employed a new imaging technique called multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT). Right now, the technology has only been tested on a mouse model of human cancer, so it won't be available to hospitals any time soon. Though this technology is still going through trial stages towards early clinical studies, it's a huge step in cancer treatment.


The entire study titled “Engineering Gold Nanotubes with Controlled Length and Near-Infrared Absorption for Theranostic Applications” is available in the Advanced Functional Materials journal.



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