Digging for Gold

March 9, 2009

2 Min Read
Digging for Gold

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Diagram showing the process used to synthesize gold nanoparticles from soybeans and water.

Last week, Medtech Pulse reported on a breakthrough invention for treating cancer that uses gold nanoparticles to seek and destroy tumor cells without affecting healthy tissue. Indeed, scientists, medical device manufacturers, and medical practitioners have high hopes for nanoparticles. But with their production expected to climb dramatically in the coming years, researchers are wondering how to manufacture them while sparing the environment. Kattesh V. Katti and his colleagues Raghuraman Kannan and Kavita Katti believe they have a solution.Kattesh Katti, professor of radiology and physics at the University of Missouri (Columbia, MO) and senior research scientist at the University of Missouri Research Reactor, has discovered how to make gold nanoparticles by submersing gold salts in water and then adding soybeans. Once in the water, the soybeans emit a phytochemical that reduces the gold to nanoparticles. Another phytochemical from the soybeans, also pulled out by the water, then interacts with the nanoparticles to stabilize them and keep them from fusing with the particles nearby. According to Katti and his team, this process creates uniform-sized nanoparticles in a completely green process. Aside from gold salts, soybeans, and water, no other chemicals are used in the process."Typically, a producer must use a variety of synthetic or man-made chemicals to produce gold nanoparticles," remarks Katti. At the same time, some of these chemicals are toxic. "In addition, to make the chemicals necessary for production, you need to have other artificial chemicals produced, creating an even larger, negative environmental impact. Our new process only takes what nature has made available to us and uses that to produce a technology that has already proven to have far-reaching impacts in technology and medicine."In a conversation with Medtech Pulse, Katti notes that his soybean technology is proceeding toward commercialization. To market the discovery, he and his colleagues have established Greennano Co., which focuses on the development, commercialization, and worldwide supply of gold nanoparticles for medical and other applicationsWhat does the future hold? Just ask the tea leaves--Katti's next source of gold nanoparticles.

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