Gold Nanoparticles Tipped as "Next Big Thing"

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". . .these treatments are set to move 'from the laboratories to the marketplace.'"

The emerging science of nanotechnology, which uses materials such as gold to create microscopic structures, has been tipped as "next big thing" of the coming decade.

Writing in the Houston Chronicle, Eric Berger said gold nanostructures have already displayed "promising potential" for tackling some types of cancer and over the next ten years, these treatments are set to move "from the laboratories to the marketplace."

Wade Adams, director of Rice University's Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, said there is a long way to go before "truly revolutionary" devices such as nanobots that can navigate through the bloodstream to fight disease become widely adopted.

"But they've moved from the realm of the impossible to truly hard engineering projects," he added.

Rice University professors Jennifer West and Naomi Halas are currently developing gold nanoshells - tiny particles coated in gold - that can target cancer tumors and burn them out by being heated using infrared light. The research is currently at the clinical trials stage.

Professor West is also part of a Rice University study, supported by grant funding from the National Institutes of Health, to compare how nanoparticle sizes affects cell interaction to help researchers more accurately predict the effects of nanoengieering and speed up the development of treatments.

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