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Microscopic gold tubes can both detect and destroy cancer cells

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There's no doubt that doctors would prefer to treat cancer as soon as they spot it, and it looks like nanotechnology might give them that chance. Researchers at the University of Leeds have successfully tested gold nanotubes that are useful for both imaging and destroying cancer cells. Since the tubes absorb near-infrared light frequencies, which both generate heat and render human skin transparent, you only need to zap them with lasers of varying brightness to achieve multiple ends. You can use a relatively low brightness to reveal tumors, while high brightness will heat the tubes enough to kill nearby tumorous cells. The shape also has room for drugs, so you can deliver medicine at the same time.

Scientists have only tried this approach in a mouse model of human cancer, so it'll be a long while before the technique is ready for your local hospital. However, it might be worth the wait. Besides saving time, the gold nanotubes both enter and leave your body with minimal fuss; you aren't as likely to grapple with side effects caused by methods like chemotherapy. If all goes well, you'd only need injections and laser blasts to deal with at least some life-threatening conditions.

[Image credit: Jing Claussen (iThera Medical, Germany)]

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