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SAB Chair Elect, Leo I. Gordon, co-authors study developing nontoxic 'gold' treatment for B-Cell Lymphoma patients

A new study by C. Shad Thaxton, MD and Leo I. Gordon, MD both of Northwestern University Medical Center, provides new hope for those living with B-Cell lymphoma, the most common form of lymphoma.

Likened to a case of 'starving' lymphoma to death – the study found a new nanoparticle had an intriguing duplicity at its core. The nanoparticle appears to the cancerous cells like a favorite 'meal', a.k.a. high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. However, on engagement, the particle, which includes a 5 nanometer speck of gold at its heart, actually blocks the cholesterol from entering the cell, depriving the cancer of an essential nutrient, with the result that the cell eventually dies of malnourishment.

Hailed as an exciting preliminary finding, 'this has the potential to eventually become a nontoxic treatment for B-cell lymphoma, which does not involve chemotherapy,' according to Dr. Gordon.

The paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January, highlights another interesting element to the nanoparticle, namely the 'gold particle's spongy surface that suck's out cholesterol while the gold core prevents the cell from absorbing more cholesterol typically carried in the center of the natural HDL particles.' As gold has a good track record of being compatible with biological systems according to Dr. Thaxton, it serves as an excellent material for creating artificial HDLs.

The study was conducted in cultured human cells and inhibited B-cell lymphoma tumor growth in mice. As with all newly developed treatments, the HDL nanoparticle will undergo further testing but the hope is that it will eventually mark a new method of fighting and ultimately starving lymphoma cancer cells, resulting in their eradication.

January 2013