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Made in India Magazine | November 25, 2020

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Harshit Sinha

Rheumatoid arthritis affects many people with joint pains. Historically, gold has been used as a cure for this, but now, gold nanoparticles seem to do the job better with no side effects. Read on for more.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease that attacks a patient’s joints instead of pathogens that attack the body. It happens with the body immune system gets confused and mistakes the joints of the body – such as elbows and knees – to be disease-causing microorganisms.
Now new research at the University of Woollongong in Australia has shown that tiny particles of gold can invade macrophages, a type of white blood cell, and potentially stop them from buliding up inflammation around the joints, without killing them.
This is not a new development. For the last eighty years or so, scientists have been injecting patients with regular-sized gold compounds to reduce inflammation of the joints. But in the 1990s, this practice was abandoned because gold was causing a few side effects, like kidney damage and skin rash.
But by shrinking the size of gold to tiny nanoparticles – around a thousand times narrower than a strand of human hair – the research team has found that more gold gets absorbed by the immune cells, with far less toxicity and no side effects. Since these nanoparticles do not cause cell death, the risk of side effects and peripheral damage is also minimal.
Now, further research needs to be done on the ‘why’ question: just why do gold nanoparticles get absorbed at a higher rate than bigger gold compounds into the macrophages? Just what is it that they do once they get there? The theory is that since nanoparticles are around the same dimensions as a cell, thousands of them can access the cells, whereas with larger compounds, they may not be able to reach at a cellular level.

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