In nanocage-injected mice (left), the surface of the tumor quickly became hot enough to kill cells - in buffer-injected mice (right), the temperature barely budged (Image: WUSTL)
Cancer is a disease whose treatments are notoriously indiscriminate and nonspecific. Researchers have been searching for a highly targeted medical treatment that attacks cancer cells but leaves healthy tissue alone. A team of scientists at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) is working on gold nanocages that, when injected, selectively accumulate in tumors. When the tumors are later bathed in laser light, the surrounding tissue is barely warmed, but the nanocages convert light to heat, killing the malignant cells.