Health Care

Dinosaur-slaying asteroid metal can eradicate cancer, research suggests

Dinosaur-slaying asteroid metal can eradicate cancer, research suggests”

An global group of scientists has demonstrated that iridium - a very hard, silvery-white transition metal of the platinum group - can be used to kill cancer cells by filling them with deadly version of oxygen, without harming healthy tissue.

The metal, iridium, was in the asteroid with the strongest link to the extinction of dinosaurs.

The scientists created a compound of iridium and other organic materials that could be directly targeted towards cancerous cells. The iridium-organic compound is coated in a substance that reacts to the laser light, which is shined through a patient's skin, and then activates the heavy metal.

This light-activated compound works by forcing the cancer cells to transform safe oxygen compounds - the healthy O2 that we breathe and need to survive - into a more high-energy and highly reactive version that is deadly to those infected cells called singlet oxygen, the University of Warwick explained.

By conducting the treatment on non-cancerous tissue, a group of global scientists has proved that this method is safe to fight against cancer.

Furthermore, the researchers used state-of-the-art ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry to gain an unprecedented view of the individual proteins within the cancer cells - allowing them to determine precisely which proteins are attacked by the organic-iridium compound.

Citation: Dr. Pingyu Zhang, Cookson K.C. Chiu, Dr. Huaiyi Huang, Yuko P.Y. Lam, Dr. Abraha Habtemariam, Thomas Malcomson, Prof.

They found that the compound had damaged proteins that manage heat shock stress and glucose metabolism, which are known to be crucial molecules for cancer's survival.

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. Many patients are becoming increasingly resistant to traditional cancer therapies, so alternative treatment methods such as this could have an important role to play in the immediate future. "The potential of other precious metals such as iridium to provide new targeted drugs which attack cancer cells in completely new ways and combat resistance, and which can be used safely with the minimum of side-effects, is now being explored". Experts have calculated that the asteroid that fell to Earth millions of years ago and killed the fauna of our planet, brought a lot of iridium compounds, which can cure the body of cancer cells without harm to healthy.

Iridium is very rare to be found on Earth, but the scientists have managed to find a mass in the Chicxulub crater, an impact crater buried underneath the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, which is often associated with the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

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