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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid