Saturday, February 4, 2012

Silver can be used to treat cancer

Silver is not just something you can make jewellery and cutlery with. A study from the University of Leeds revealed that it has anti-cancer potential. Silver atoms can be used as basis for drugs that react with DNA of cancer cells, killing them in the process. Crucially, they seem to have less side effects than similar anti-cancer drugs. Silver was already shown to have antibiotic properties, making it a useful agent to kill bacteria.

To make it kill cancer cells, certain reactive molecules are added to silver atoms. Together, they show anti-cancer potency, and can be used as drugs to kill tumour cells. Platinum is often used as a basis, but silver appears to be just as effective. At least, that is what the British scientists found when they used their silver-based compounds on two cancer cell lines, that are derived from breast and colon tumours.

Silver-based compounds could prove to be the next step in killing cancer cells, as the conventional platinum-based drugs are used in a wide variety of cancers. As said, silver appears to cause less side effects, but there are more benefits. Tumours can develop resistance against drugs, which means silver-based cancer treatment can offer some of the necessary variety. It could mean we can make various cancers, including those of breast, colon, lung and even lymphomas.

All looks well for silver-based cancer treatments. However, scientists have only performed in vitro studies, which means they used cells, and not animals. Getting a drug to the clinic takes many years, and many studies. First, the researchers need to show efficacy in relevant animal models and prove it really is safe and effective. Thereafter, perhaps the first human trials can start. It means we probably will not see cancer drugs based on silver in the clinic any time soon. Nevertheless, adding more weapons to our arsenal of cancer drugs is a good thing.

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