All that glitters can help treat brain tumours

Posted 9 Apr 2015.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

It is well known as the precious metal but a University of Western Australia researcher has used a Cancer Council Western Australia scholarship to examine how gold nanoparticles can help reduce the dose of radiation needed to treat the most common brain cancer in adults.

Nedlands resident Ryan Begley is a recipient of a $3,000 James Crofts Hope Student Vacation Scholarship which was announced as part of the annual Cancer Council WA Research funding grants.

Mr Begley analysed whether very small gold particles attached to tumour cells would allow patients to be given a reduced amount of radiation, thereby reducing any brain damage and improving the overall success of treating the tumours.

He said the grant helped him to focus on continuing valuable research.

“I am very grateful to have been awarded this Cancer Council grant,” Mr Begley said.

“It’s helped to enable valuable training and education for me to go and eventually work as a medical physicist in the area of radiation oncology.”

Glioblastoma Multiforme is the most common brain cancer in adults and tumours can arise anywhere within the brain.

There are about 100 new cases of Glioblastoma Multiforme in Western Australia every year.

Radiation therapy can be used to treat these tumours but the parts of the brain that allow us to make new brain cells and new memories can be damaged by the radiation at the same time.

Mr Begley said this project has built on existing research into gold nanoparticles that has already been conducted.

“What’s novel about this project is the analysis as we specifically looked at brain tumours and wanted to quantify by how much we could reduce the dose of radiation.

“When the gold particles were injected where the tumour is, the gold seemed to amplify the dose in that area which allowed a reduced dose to healthy brain tissue,” he said.

Mr Begley said he would like to do more work on projects using gold nanoparticles but this project will certainly be a stepping stone for future study by researchers at UWA.

The grant is part of $3.8 million in research funding announced by Cancer Council WA at a recent lunch sponsored by the Parmelia Hilton in Perth. 

Cancer Council WA, a community funded organisation, is one of the largest funders of cancer research in the State through a peer reviewed grants scheme.

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