Silver may be just as effective in killing some cancers as chemotherapy, and with potentially fewer side effects, according to a new study released on Thursday.
University of Leeds researchers found particular silver compounds to be just as toxic to cancer cells as the widely used platinum-based drug Cisplatin in cancer treatment.
Scientists said that the “crucial difference” is that silver is a lot less toxic to healthy human cells.
Researchers said Cisplatin is known to have harsh side effects like nausea, vomiting and kidney damage, and silver which is used in products like deodorant, bandages and in some cases in water purification filters has no one side effects and can potentially be made as a cheaper alternative to Cisplatin.
"As many are unfortunately aware, chemotherapy can be a very grueling experience for the patient. Finding effective, yet non-toxic drugs is an ongoing problem, but these preliminary results are an important step in solving it," lead author Dr. Charlotte Willans said in a statement.
Researchers exposed breast and colon cancer cells to various silver-based chemicals over a span of six days, and the results, published in journal Dalton Transactions, demonstrated that the silver-compounds were ‘as effective as Cisplatin’ at killing those cancer cells with possibly fewer side effects.
However, scientists are unsure of how silver works against cancerous cells, but they said that a possibility was that structure surrounding silver atoms, known as its ligand, may help release the silver ion into cells as it enters the body to effectively destroy any cancer cells.
Willans plans to spend the next year researching silver’s effect on both cancerous and healthy cells, and if it could be a safe and effective new anti-cancer drug.