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Gold dust that could help beat brain cancer: Tiny particles are used to carry drug into diseased cells and destroy them

Baku, August 18 (AZERTAC). Tiny golden bullets could help patients win the fight against brain cancer, doctors believe.

British experts have used pieces of gold so small that four million would fit on the end of a strand of hair to kill cancer cells.

In a ‘Trojan horse’ manoeuvre, the precious particles were used to smuggle a drug into diseased cells and destroy them.

The cutting-edge treatment is designed to treat glioblastomas - the most common and most dangerous brain tumours.

Around 4,000 Britons are diagnosed with these extremely fast growing and difficult to treat tumours every year.

Most die within months of being diagnosed and just six in every 100 survive for five years.

The tumours are hard to cut out and while chemotherapy drugs help initially, the effect is often temporary.

The latest research suggests that gold can be used to make the drugs much more effective.

Researcher Professor Sir Mark Welland, of St John’s College at the University of Cambridge, took pieces of gold small enough to easily slip inside cancer cells and attached the cancer drug cisplatin to them.

Once the specks of gold had wormed their way into tumour cells, he shone X-rays on them.

This led to the gold releasing electrons - negatively-charged particles that damaged the cancer cells - making it easier for the drug to kill the cells.

In laboratory experiments on cells taken from human tumours, the gold-drug combination was much more effective than either alone.

In fact, it all but wiped out the cancer.

Sir Mark said: ‘We couldn’t find any live cells. The important thing is that we didn’t find any regrowth after 20 days.’

In contrast, cells treated with cisplatin alone bounced back after just a few days, the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Nanoscale reports.

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