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nanotechnology to kill inoperable tumors


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A friend of mine just sent me this article. I don't know if it is being used for lung tumors or not yet, but I just thought this was interesting and a possible new weapon in the arsenal to fight the disease.

Gold shells can kill inoperable tumours

By Roger Highfield, Science Editor

(Filed: 04/11/2003)

Tiny golden "nanoshells" offer a new way to kill inoperable tumours without harming surrounding tissue, according to a study published today.

The shells, which consist of glass coated with gold, are called nanoshells because they are a few billionths of a metre (a nanometre) across, and mark another example of the burgeoning field of nanotechnology.

A Texan team, led by Dr Jennifer West at Rice University, claims that the shells could be used to treat tumours which have been hard to target until now.

Most solid tumours are removed by surgery but there are some that are impossible to remove because they are so small, mingled with surrounding tissue or located within a vital organ or tissue.

There are ways to deal with inoperable tumours but they often damage healthy tissue too. Now Dr West's team has found a way to kill these cells by combining two harmless treatments - nanoshells and infrared (heat) laser light which passes harmlessly through normal tissue.

In today's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr West says her team designed the nanoshells to absorb this particular frequency of near-infrared light. The nanoshells warmed rapidly so that they could be used selectively to "cook" and kill tumours.

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