The Golden Touch
Researchers move a step closer to improving the effectiveness of cancer drugs by “manufacturing” therapeutic compounds in vivo using gold nanoparticle catalysts
James Strachan |
For decades, scientists have been trying to figure out ways of reducing the toxic side effects of chemotherapy drugs. But what if patients could receive inactive chemical precursors along with a catalyst to produce therapeutic compounds at the site of the tumor?
The trouble is finding the right catalyst. According to researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, gold nanoparticles are a good prospect: they work at or even below room temperature, are recyclable, and harmless to human beings. Their application in biological systems, however, is hampered by their affinity for thiols – sulphur analogues of alcohols. The near covalent bond formed between gold and sulphur leads to the spontaneous self-assembly of monolayers at the surface of the catalyst, masking its catalytic properties.
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