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

Asian Stocks Plunge on Weak Factory Activity

Official survey finds China’s manufacturing sector contracted at its fastest pace in three years More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs