Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Thar's Gold in Them Thar Tumors!

OK, I'm mostly interested in this story because it made me think of the title for this post and I kind of cracked myself up with it, but part of me also thinks it's really cool research.

Some smart folks at Case Western Reserve have found that attaching a chemo drug to gold nanoparticles (really, really small particles) causes the drug to go deep into the tumor, rather than just attaching to its surface. The treatment is much more effective this way, when it's deep inside.

The key, apparently, is in attaching it loosely to the gold -- using a chemical bond that is more like a shoestring than a big rope, as they put it.

This type of approach to treatment -- attaching the drug to something else that is attracted to the tumor cells -- seems like it's becoming a more popular approach. It's the idea behind RIT (RadioImmunoTherapy), and some other treatments in trials. The great advantage is that you need a lot less of the drug, since it's being channeled straight to the tumor, and so there are fewer side effects.

You can read the link for all the details, but the article makes very clear that the gold does not build up in the body, and is in fact filtered out of the body by the kidneys in a week or so.

I'm not sure what would be more exciting about a treatment like this: the fact that, for a week, it would give me actual nodes of gold, or that after a week, I'd be peeing a precious metal. Either way, I'd feel awfully special.

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