Tumours need a blood supply to grow and so it make sense to hypothesise that if the growth of blood vessels in tumors could be stopped, the tumour would effectively die.

Enter a group of antibodeis that can be used to  destroy the protein (vascular endothelial growth factor or VEGF) that tells the blood vessels to divide.

The problem? The antibodies have serious side effects on the body.

The solution? Gold nanoparticles, approx 5nm wide that seem seem to have blocked VEGF’s ability to stimulate blood vessels to divide.

However, much work is still to be done. There are unanswered questions such as, are the gold particles toxic to cells?

Article adapted form an article in New Scientist magazine, ‘Nano-drug may starve tumors’ on page 17 of the edition for sale on the 27th November 2004.