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Iridium Can Be Used to Destroy Cancer Cells

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 01:08PM

Iridium is a rather rare metal, and while it is associated with the asteroid that led to the mass extinction of the dinosaurs and much more life, it may come to be a powerful tool for preserving life. Researchers at the University of Warwick have discovered a means to use iridium to destroy cancer cells, and this method does not damage normal healthy cells.

To destroy the cancer cells, the researchers made a compound of iridium and an organic material, and then light just needs to shine on it. The compound can be targeted specifically at cancerous cells, and it will transfer the energy of the light to the oxygen within the cell, producing singlet oxygen. Singlet oxygen is a high-energy form of oxygen that is highly reactive and poisonous to the cancer cell. Healthy cells are not affected by this process though, and the researchers even tested the method in healthy cells to prove as much. The light used in the process is just visible light and for their testing the researchers used red laser light, as it can reach through the skin.

While this research is on its own impressive, it also shows the value in exploring even more precious metals for their use in cancer chemotherapies. Platinum, another precious metal, is already used in over half of such treatments, and others could prove equally potent.

Source: University of Warwick

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