Edinburgh (Web Desk): New research has suggested that tiny flecks of gold could be used in the fight against cancer, The Independent reported.

Scientists at Edinburgh University published a study which shows the precious metal increased the effectiveness of drugs used to treat lung cancer cells.

Nanoparticlesof gold were encased in a chemical device by the research team.

This has not been tested on humans however it is hoped that such a device could one day be used to reduce side effects of current chemotherapy treatments particularly targeting affected cells without damaging healthy tissue.

Gold is a safe chemical element and has the ability to accelerate, or catalyse, chemical reactions.

The device was shown to be effective after being implanted in the brain of a zebrafish, suggesting it can be used in living animals.

The study was carried out in collaboration with researchers at the University of Zaragoza’s Institute of Nanoscience of Aragon in Spain, with funding coming from Cancer Research UK (CRUK), and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

“The next steps will be to see if this method is safe to use in people, what its long- and short-term side effects are, and if it’s a better way to treat some cancers.”