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Gold Nanorods Target Cancer Cells

Swinburne University researchers have reported that gold nanorods can be used to inhibit cancer cell growth in cervical cancer.

Dr Chiara Paviolo from Swinburne’s Centre for Micro-Photonics was able to stop cancer cell proliferation by attaching tiny gold particles to the cell receptors in immortal HeLa cells – the first human cell line ever cloned.

“Cell receptors send growth signals to the cell by binding with an external molecule called a growth factor and then clustering together,” Paviolo said. Growth factors are normally used to stimulate the growth of cells and are involved in 20% of cancers.

“By placing growth factors at the ends of 100 nm gold nanorods we could prevent the clustering of the receptors at a defined distance and thereby shut off the growth signal,” she said.

“The simple explanation is that receptors need to cluster together to send a signal, but if you keep them apart it stops them from signalling.”

The research has been published in the nanotechnology journal Small.