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Effective New Prostate Cancer Treatment Discovered
Researchers from the University of Missouri believe they have uncovered a revolutionary way to treat prostate cancer, although it is still years away from human trials. Researchers performing the study found that a certain compound in tea can be delivered with radioactive gold nanoparticles to effectively target prostate cancer without harming surrounding tissue. Amazingly, this treatment method seems to be even more effective than chemotherapy.
Today, cancer patients must endure high doses of chemotherapy treatment to destroy cancer cells. Unfortunately, while the chemicals do shrink tumors and cancerous tissue, they also spread throughout the body without direction and harm other organs. Chemotherapy carries with it a great deal of adverse health effects. Fast-growing healthy cells are likely to be targeted by chemotherapy, especially those in the reproductive system, hair follicles, bone marrow and cells in the digestive tract. Chemotherapy can also cause long-term damage to organs and is known for its difficult to endure side effects, especially nausea.
Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this new study found that the gold and tea treatment would require doses microscopic compared to the standard chemotherapy — thousands of times smaller. These compounds can also move directly to the source of the tumor without spreading to other areas of the body and causing further harm.
The chemicals in the tea can covert gold salt into tiny nanoparticles. These chemicals are found in all types of tea, including green and black tea, and seem to have an affinity for prostate cancer cell chemicals. The chemical in the tea actually carries the nanoparticles directly to the tumor and keeps them there, where they can work to destroy the tumor.
Kattesh Katti, the lead author of the study, said that researchers were about to reduce the size of the tumors by 70 to 80%.
The co-author of the study, Cathy Cutler, explained the process used for the treatment. Researchers began with natural gold, which is eradiated in a reactor to make it radioactive. This allows the gold to emit beta rays, which shrink tumor size. Next, the gold is placed with components of the tea so they react together and create the nanoparticles.
The radioactivity of gold has a half-life of a mere 2.7 days, so the nanoparticles produced will only take this long to decay to half of their original amount. This makes a single dose effective for nearly 3 weeks.
The researchers further tested the efficiency of the nanoparticles by testing the treatment on mice with human prostate cancer cells. Once the nanoparticles and tea compound (Epigallocatechin gallate, or ECGC) were injected, the nanoparticles were delivered straight to the tumor’s source.
Currently, therapy for an aggressive prostate cancer in a patient requires the injection of hundreds of small radioactive “seeds” into the prostate. This treatment has limited effectiveness because these radioactive compounds are too large to stay at the source of the tumor and they can’t deliver the dose properly, unlike the gold nanoparticle treatment.
Eventually, researchers hope this new treatment will be used to help existing therapies for cancer, although it could even be used as a primary therapy in the future. The hope is this treatment can be used to control the tumor’s size and keep it from spreading, and then use chemotherapy to destroy the remaining tumor cells throughout the entire body. The team hopes to begin trials soon on larger animals and feels that human trials could happen within the next 5 years.