A new study entitled “Engineering Gold Nanotubes with Controlled Length and Near-Infrared Absorption for Theranostic Applications” details the successful use of gold nanotubes in both in vitro an in vivo settings as a potential therapeutics to human diseases, such as cancer. The study was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials. In this new study, a team of researchers at the School of Physics and Astronomy, the Leeds Institute for Biomedical and Clinical Sciences and School of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, University of Leeds developed gold nanotubes (NTs), i.e., gold tubular nanostructures, with a series of new characteristics to enhance their diagnostics and potential therapeutics applications. First, the authors developed a technique to control the length of the tubes and created nanotubes with a well-defined shape. These dimensions then allowed the tubes’ absorption of a specific type of light, in the 'near infrared' region. The development of these features is essential for therapeutics, such as Photothermal therapy — this is a minimally invasive procedure where photothermal conversion agents (PTCAs) have the power to absorb light and convert it into heat — and is used to specifically ablate cancer cells. Underlying this and other similar approaches is the absolute necessity of tubular nanostructures to absorb in the near-infrared and have low toxicity. For the latter point, the team coated the nanotubes with poly (sodium 4-styrenesulfonate) (PSS) to ensure its low toxicity. The team tested the new developed gold nanotubes in mice, where they injected the nanostructures intravenously. The imaging of the nanotubes inside the body was allowed by using a new imaging technique, known as 'multispectral optoacoustic tomography'