The asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs in a mass extinction event 66 million years ago might also end up curing cancer and saving countless lives.

It has to do with a heavy metal scientists believe the asteroid was carrying, just like other meteorites that have landed on Earth. Iridium is one of the densest and toughest metals on the planet, and researchers are harnessing it to treat disease. A study in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition explains that the team made a compound out of iridium and organic material that can be activated by a laser to attack cancer cells, poisoning them with a dangerous form of oxygen.

The study says the treatment is toxic only to cancer cells, and is harmless to healthy ones.

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