Fight Cancer With Gold?

Scientific Breakthrough Using Gold Compounds May Offer Alternative Cancer Treatment

Written by Alex Reid
Posted July 31, 2012

Alternative cancer therapies have become wildly popular over some of the risky traditional options that can pose threats to healthy cells.

Researchers across the globe have been tackling this issue, and today's story boasts a case of notable achievement from a name you'll want to remember: Nicholas Lease, biology/chemistry student whose unexpected interest in inorganic chemistry has taken him down a wonderful road of discovery.

Since early 2007, one of Lease's salient mentors, Professor Contel, has been working with gold compounds in an attempt to create an alternative cancer treatment with less toxins than platinum-based compounds (i.e. cisplatin, carboplatin, and oxaliplatin). Platinum-based compounds have been used in hospitals all over the world since the 1970s.

Gold's Good News

As it turns out, gold isn't only valuable as a financial anchor-of-stability. It's one of the only known metals that can be used in the medical field in such a way that it will not compromise healthy cells when treating various forms of cancer.

Mr. Lease was inspired by Professor Contel and began conducting his own research. In his experiments, Lease added something to the gold compounds that Contel did not: an iron molecule known as ferrocene. Ferrocene is special in that it “changes the physicochemical characteristics of the resulting compounds and may be beneficial for their antitumor properties.”

Nicholas made one more change to the process. Instead of simply using one type of each molecule, he two molecules of gold and one iron and two molecules of palladium plus iron.

That was key to what happened next...

This decision to add ferrocene in this manner led to an unprecedented breakthrough in cancer research. The compounds created by Lease proved to have quite a toxic affect on human ovarian and breast cancer cell lines. Contel was excited by Lease's discovery, especially the fact that Lease's new compounds were successful in damaging certain cancerous cell lines that were previously resistant to other treatment options like cisplatin.

The American Chemistry Society is pleased as well. So pleased that they had no reservations about paying for his trip to San Diego to present his research.

In the meantime, Lease is ambitious about his career and ready to repeat trials to get a better idea of just how toxic his gold-iron compound truly is on cancer cell lines.

Before these promising results can be officially published in science news reports, the medical research community needs to understand exactly how the compound interacts with proteins. Electro-chemistry tests must be conducted before further progress is made with this breakthrough discovery.

If all goes according to plan, cancer-sufferers may look forward to more optimized treatment options.

This is just another excellent example of how far we've come in terms of medical discoveries and technologies that will enhance our likelihood of living longer, healthier, richer lives.

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