Many of us, at sometime or another, have lost a friend, a colleague, a loved or a family member to some form of cancer. Many of us have experienced first hand the limits of surgery leaving behind tumor cells or chemotherapy or radiation therapy, which kill the cancer cells while weakening a patients immune system, leaving them vulnerable to secondary infections. Many of us, both those who have lost someone and the surgeons, oncologists and nurses who deal with cancer daily, have wished for some treatment or procedure that would not have the side effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Science Daily, earlier this month, carried an article, "Targeting Tumors Using Tiny Gold Particles", about the research work done by Geoffrey von Maltzahn and Sangeeta Bhatia in using gold nanorods to kill tumors using heat. While the heat would kill or weaken the cancer cells, the side effects appear to be minimal, at least in the lab mice that have received the nanorods. At this time, no human trials have been conducted or scheduled.
Use of gold nanorods, either to detect cancer cells left behind by surgery or as a supplement to more conventional treatments or as treatments in themselves, is probably a long way down the road at this point, but such research does provide something that a diagnosis of cancer leaves in short supply.