A NEW TREATMENT FOR CANCER
WHAT IS CANCER?
Cancer is a collection of diseases, all of which involve the division and growth of abnormal cells in the body. These cells become invasive when they spread to nearby tissue, forming harmful tumors that can be life threatening.
CANCER TREATMENTS OVER THE YEARS
WHAT IS A GOLD NANOSHELL?
HOW GOLD NANOSHELLS TREAT CANCER
HOW NANOSHELLS TARGET CANCER CELLS
WHAT'S NEXT FOR NANOSHELLS?
A gold nanoshell is a spherical particle made of an insulating silica core and a thin shell of gold. Its diameter can range from 10 to 200 nanometers (slightly bigger than a strand of human DNA). When nanoshells are exposed to a type of radiation called near-infrared light, nanoshells convert that light into heat because of their metallic exterior. This phenomenon makes nanoshells extremely useful as a cancer treatment.
Physician inserts billions of gold nanoshells into patient's bloodstream.
Nanoshells target and enter cancerous cells in patient's body.
Physician shines near-infrared light over cancerous region, causing nanoshells to rapidly heat up within cancer cells.
The burst of heat kills cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
Gold nanoshells are a revolutionary cancer treatment because of their ability to destroy cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. Nanoshell technology is still fairly new, meaning that it is not widely available to the general public as a cancer treatment. Nevertheless, as more studies are conducted to confirm its effectiveness, gold nanoshell therapy can be an excellent treatment option for you or your loved ones who have been diagnosed with cancer.
The gold coating on nanoshells contains proteins that correspond with proteins on cancer cells. As the nanoshells travel through the bloodstream, their proteins identify and link to the proteins found on cancer cells. This process ensures that nanoshells will only enter cancer cells, meaning that the heat from the infrared light will not kill any healthy cells in the body.
A common concern is if gold nanoshells are toxic to the human body. However, scientists have found that gold is the most biocompatible metal, meaning that gold is not harmful to human tissue. In addition, multiple studies done on mice with gold nanoshells haven demonstrated that nanoshells are non-toxic and safe.
¹Evolution of Cancer Treatments. (2014, June 12). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/history-of-cancer/cancer-treatment-surgery.html
²Shanbhag, Iyer, & Shetty. (2017, June 27). Gold Nanoshells: A Ray of Hope in Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment. Nuclear Medicine and Biomedical Imaging, 2(2). doi:10.15761/nmbi.1000122
³McMillan, Batrakova, & Gendelman. (2011). Chapter 14 - Cell Delivery of Therapeutic Nanoparticles. In Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science(Vol. 104, pp. 563-601).
⁴See Footnote 2.