Gold nanoparticles may help treat pancreatic cancer

By Ryan Maass   |   Oct. 19, 2016 at 4:25 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Gold nanoparticles have the potential to supplement chemotherapy treatment for pancreatic cancer patients, a new study suggests.

Pancreatic cancer is among the deadliest forms of cancer, and is highly resistant to both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, research led by scientists at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center suggests gold nanoparticles can help make existing treatments more effective.

In their experiment involving pancreatic cancer cells and pancreatic stellate cells in a mouse model, the researchers demonstrated that tiny gold particles can be used as a vehicle to carry chemotherapy drug molecules into tumors, or as a target to enhance radiation treatment on tumors.

The study builds on previous research led by Piryabrata Mukherjee, who found during an examination of ovarian cancer in mice that gold nanoparticles can limit tumor growth. The latest study revealed parallels with pancreatic cancer. The gold nanoparticles were able to disrupt cellular communication in the area surrounding the tumors without harming normal cells. The results were published in ACS NANO, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

Pancreatic cancer is characterized by tumor growth within the tissues in the pancreas, the organ that helps regulate digestion, hormones and the metabolism of sugars. The disease is often written off as a death sentence due to its formidable resistance to conventional treatments. Some 42,000 people in the United States are expected to die of the disease in 2016 alone.

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