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Gold-coated nanoparticles act as cancer killers

Nanotechnology is definitely here to stay. It’s being touted in all kinds of scientific pursuits these days. One of the most revolutionary may just be in the realm of fighting cancer.

Nanoshells, as they are being called, are gold-coated nanoparticles that would be placed within tumors and then remotely exploded with infrared light. The good catch is that the nanoparticles don’t die but the cancer cells do. More importantly, unlike chemotherapy and radiation, this kind of treatment doesn’t harm other cells because it is engineered to target only the cancer cells.

Scientists also say that the nanoshells could be used as infrared imaging devices, perhaps as a first-step microscopic X-ray of a tumor. The one possible danger is that the infrared light is shone through the patient’s skin, perhaps causing some form of reaction. But, scientists say, that reaction will be mild compared to the havoc that radiation and chemo can wreck on the body.

This round of nanoshells (which build on an earlier method) is on the cusp of FDA-approved clinical trials and could be soon on the fast track to approval. Initial tests have already shown 100 percent remissions in animals.

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