Fighting Cancer with Gold

Researchers from the University of Rhode Island and Brown University have demonstrated a promising new way to increase the effectiveness of radiation, and it involves the same metal as your wedding ring. It’s long been known that gold is particularly good at amplifying the effects of radiation, but the trick has been getting it close enough to malignant cells to target the damage. Now, special compounds have been designed to deliver gold nanoparticles close enough to cancer cells that, in lab tests, the cells were 24 percent less likely to survive than those treated with radiation alone.

Mice trials will be next for the new method, but the ultimate goal is to improve radiation’s effectiveness in humans, allowing doctors to reduce radiation doses and their unpleasant side effects.