Our brains control what we do, feel, think and arguably who we are. These essential traits of life are endangered by brain cancer. Around 4500 people in the UK are diagnosed with brain cancer every year, more than half having a tumour called a glioma (pictured). Gliomas occur when glial cells, which support our nerve cells, become defective and divide uncontrollably. Conventional treatments have severe side effects, as they are toxic to healthy cells as well as cancer cells. A new therapy in development aims to reduce these adverse effects using tiny particles of gold. Gold nanoparticles preferentially build up in cancer cells, leaving healthy cells better protected from the noxious treatment. Aiming a harmless laser in the direction of the cancer cells causes the gold within them to heat up to lethal effect. Meanwhile the antitumour drug is released killing any nearby cancer cells that escape the laser.
Written by Lux Fatimathas
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