Gold nanoparticles are used in a variety of medical applications, including delivery of drugs and also in what are known as “MRI contrast agents.” Basically, to make certain organs stand out among the noise of your innards, techs pump a little gold dust in you.
But new research at Stony Brook University suggests that those nanoparticles – once thought harmless – actually disrupt cell production and functioning:
The scientists discovered that the human adipose-derived stromal cells—a type of adult stem cells—were penetrated by the gold nanoparticles almost instantly and that the particles accumulated in the cells with no obvious pathway for elimination.
The presence of the particles disrupted multiple cell functions, including movement, replication (cell division), and collagen contraction—all processes that are essential in wound healing.
Oh, and the fun doesn’t stop there! It turns out that the introduction of nanoparticles seems to veer into the Incredible Hulk territories:
The most disturbing finding was that the particles interfered with genetic regulation, RNA expression and inhibited the ability to differentiate into mature adipocytes or fat cells.
So in summary, pumping your body with gold dust may actually turn you into Midas. For realzies. Or maybe not. This is just one study…