One reason gold is so valuable is its scarcity. New uses of this metal create greater demand, which in turn diminishes supply and places upward pressure on its price. Recent research from the World Gold Council is shedding light on the growing uses of gold in medicine. Contrary to most uses of this precious metal, many medical applications use gold at molecular levels, placing it in human bodies and making it difficult or impractical to recover it. Consequently, medical uses for gold are having a significant impact on supply. 1
Uses of Gold in Medicine
It is because of these factors that analysts are looking at the many new applications and uses of gold in the field of medicine. Gold has unique physical characteristics that make it the optimum choice for thousands of uses. For decades, gold has had numerous technology applications and has been essential to everything from switches to computer components.
The yellow metal’s unique biocompatibility made it a popular choice for dentistry and other health-related uses millennia ago. Today, that same quality is integral to numerous new and groundbreaking medical procedures and applications. With the growing advances in nanotechnology, scientists and medical researchers are finding gold as an ideal element for new treatments, diagnostic procedures, and innovative medical devices.
The growing use of gold is found in two primary medical fields: diagnostics and therapeutics. The applications in these two areas are widely varied, and many believe there are virtually an unlimited number of additional beneficial uses of gold in both fields.
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For example, gold is used as a part of several diagnostic procedures:
- Rapid Diagnostic Tests: Hundreds of millions of RDTs are used throughout the world each year, and they are increasingly indispensable tools in improving health in underdeveloped parts of the globe. Each test requires minute particles of gold, and the total consumption of this metal is growing rapidly as the number and type of RDTs increase.
- Combatting HIV/AIDs: Techniques utilizing nanoparticles allow early detection in ultra-low concentrations.
- Cancer Detection: With prostate cancer being the second-most common cancer, researchers are developing more effective and less expensive tests for this disease using gold nanoparticles.
In addition to its unique value as an aid to diagnostics, gold is also used in a growing number of therapeutic applications. While scientists are not fully knowledgeable as to why gold has its healing effect, it is accepted as an important element of treating numerous diseases and ailments:
- Arthritis: Various forms of this debilitating ailment, especially rheumatoid arthritis, are treated with injectable forms of compounds that contain gold particles. Significant research is exploring other uses for this and related diseases. This includes potential use to deliver vaccines and anti-microbial agents.
- Cancer: One of mankind’s most nefarious diseases, cancer claims nearly 8 million lives a year. This is in spite of many new advances and treatments. One of the most promising uses of gold is to deliver chemotherapy directly to diseased tumors.
With growing research and applications, the ultimate demand for gold in the medical arena could soon become a major factor affecting the price of this precious metal.