Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that tiny fragments of gold could be used in the fight against cancer.
The precious metal can be used in such a way that it increases the effectiveness of other drugs prescribed to treat lung cancer cells, reports CNBC.
The medical study involved zebrafish. Researchers incased microscopic pieces of gold — known as nanoparticles — in a chemical device and used to accelerate other chemical reactions. The researchers are hopeful a similar technique could be applied to develop human treatments.
“We have discovered new properties of gold that were previously unknown and our findings suggest that the metal could be used to release drugs inside tumors very safely,” said Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta, from Cancer Research U.K.’s Edinburgh center, to CNBC.
This method aims to reduce the side effects of current chemotherapy treatments by specifically targeting the diseased cells while not harming healthy tissue.
In particular, it could help improve treatments for brain tumors and other hard-to-treat cancers, said Dr Aine McCarthy, Cancer Research U.K.’s senior science information officer, to CNBC. The next step is to see if the the method is in fact safe to use on people, and if there are any short or long-term side effects.
The study was published in the scientific journal Angewandte Chemie and carried out in connection with scientists at the University of Zaragoza’s Institute of Nanoscience Aragon in Spain, with funding from the Physical Sciences Research Council and Cancer Research U.K.