Zapping gold particles can melt body fat

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

gold nanoparticles image
This picture illustrates how gold nanoparticles can burn fat after being heated, by melting it into a removable form.

If you want to hear about crazy weight loss methods, look no further than magazines, TV, or the internet. There are countless advertisements promising to burn fat with a simple pill, a miracle drug, or an effortless diet program. While very few of these get-thin-quick schemes are legitimate, researchers are now positive they can melt fat by using tiny particles of gold, and even get rid of cancer with it.

The idea is so simple, it’s genius. Essentially, a medical expert will inject gold nanoparticles (microscopic pieces) into the fatty areas of a person’s body. Then, a special laser will heat up the pieces until the surrounding fat melts, almost like a stick of butter on a hot skillet. Finally, the doctor will suction the liquefied fat right out of the patient’s body. If this method seems unique and high-tech, it’s actually not. Using gold particles for medical practices has been around for almost a decade, and it can be used for more than just cosmetics.

In fact, the idea to use gold nanoparticles was kind of borrowed from cancer treatment practices. Scientists realized that tumors (abnormal clumps of tissue) could be surrounded with nanoparticles and partially destroyed when blasted with energy.

It will be years before we see either of these medical techniques regularly practiced by doctors, but you have to admit that using lasers and gold to destroy fat and cancer is definitely futuristic!

Featured image courtesy of Alexander Bogen on Flickr. Image of nanoparticles diagram courtesy of eLux Medical/C&EN.