Scientists continue to find new uses for gold, particularly in the medical field.
In the latest development, scientists have discovered a process using gold nanoparticles that helps reduce inflammation and speeds healing in damaged muscles
For some time, scientists have known that injections of an anti-inflammatory substance known as interleukin 4 (IL-4) can help speed healing in injured muscles. The problem is IL-4 breaks down quickly in the bloodstream. That means patients must endure multiple injections in order for the treatment to be effective, and this creates its own set of unpleasant side effects.
Now scientists at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a process that increases the effectiveness of IL-4 using gold. According to a report in Medical News Today, pairing IL-4 with gold nanoparticles “prompts muscle regeneration and keeps that IL-4 where it is needed most, instead of allowing it to wander through the bloodstream and become less potent over time.”
Mice treated using this process experienced increased muscle fiber in just 15 days.
According to the report, scientists think the process could be used to treat other chronic conditions.
“As well as looking at gold therapy for acute muscle injury, there are more studies on the way to see how it would affect people with more chronic conditions. Research is ongoing, and scientists are currently looking at how this type of therapy works in mice with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The findings could lead to future developments that work in humans who have the same condition.”
This is just one of the many recent developments in the healthcare field using gold.
For instance, scientists have developed a blood test using gold nanoparticles that could help with cancer treatment. In fact, scientists have developed a number of cancer treatments using gold nanoparticles over the last few years. Researchers in Mumbai recently moved a step closer to treating surface tumors caused by oral, breast and cervical cancer, along with other tumors such melanoma and colon cancer, through photothermal ablation using gold-polymer nanoparticles and near-infrared light. Scientists at UC Berkeley have developed a process using gold to repair the mutation that causes Duchenne muscular dystrophy. And earlier this year, a team of Chinese researchers announced they were able to partially restored the sight of blind mice by replacing their deteriorated photoreceptors – sensory structures inside the eye that respond to light – with nano-wires made of gold and titanium.
We generally think of gold as an investment as well as money, but it is increasingly being used to improve our quality of life and heal the sick. The use of gold in the field of medicine, and more broadly in technology and industry, will likely put upward pressure on demand for the yellow metal in the future.
The demand for gold in tech applications grew for the seventh consecutive quarter in Q2 2018. Over the past decade, the tech sector accounted for more than 380 tons of gold demand annually. That’s 13% ahead of central bank purchases during the same time period.
Tech demand for both gold and silver will likely continue to increase over the next several decades. Silver demand has always been heavily influenced by industrial use, but gold is becoming more and more important in industry, especially in high tech applications. It’s important to consider these supply and demand fundamentals as you analyze the broader precious metals markets.
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