News / Health

Gold Nanoparticles May Brighten Outlook for Colonoscopy

Reflective microscopic material sticks to tumor cells

The use of gold nanoparticles during a colonoscopy could help doctors detect small, easily overlooked polyps.
The use of gold nanoparticles during a colonoscopy could help doctors detect small, easily overlooked polyps.
Art Chimes

Gold nanoparticles might help doctors detect colon cancer sooner, which could lead to easier and more successful treatment.

Most experts believe that colon cancer usually starts in small growths called polyps. That's one of the main things a doctor looks for during a colonoscopy. Larger polyps can be seen easily, but small ones may be overlooked.

What's needed is something that will draw attention to those nearly invisible, but possibly pre-cancerous polyps. "And what we're trying to do is develop little molecular beacons, little nanoparticles," says Sanjiv Gambhir of Stanford University.

He and his colleagues have been testing a variation on a nanoparticle used in, of all things, anti-counterfeiting measures.

Gold-silica nanoparticles are embedded into paper money and other security documents to verify their authenticity. These particles scatter light in a very distinctive way, making it easy to tell a genuine banknote from a forgery.

The Stanford researchers took the idea one step further - adding a surface layer to the nanoparticles so they would attach to cancer cells.

"On the surface of them, we put little molecules - sometimes peptides, sometimes larger proteins - that are designed to recognize targets on early cancer. And so the nanoparticles latch on because they're functionalized to, in fact, bind to cancer cells."

For colon cancer tests, the patient would drink a fluid containing hundreds of millions, or even billions of the microscopic nanoparticles. As they make their way down the bowel, they would stick to any tumor cells they encounter.

During the course of the colonoscopy, a doctor would see the bright reflection of the nanoparticles attached to the cancer cells. It might stand out sort of the way a reflective stop sign shines brightly when hit by a car's headlights on a dark night.

According to Gambhir, regulatory approval could come by the end of next year.

"Our longer term goals are to also use these to look at ovarian cancer and gliomas - brain tumors - as well as other cancers," he says. "But we do have the long-term goal of making these useful for different types of cancers and then will be used to detect low quantities of that cancer hidden in the body."     

Sanjiv Gambhir and his colleagues report on the safety and promise of using nanoparticles to help find early signs of cancer in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid