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Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers
Scientific researchers at Nanoprobes, Inc. have been working with magnetic nanoparticles in a quest to cure cancer. The study, published in the International Journal of Nanomedicine, is one of the biggest breakthroughs in cancer research to date.
Senior scientist James Hainfeld, Ph.D., and his team have been working on a cure for cancer through magnetic nanoparticles for almost six years. Originally, it was hypothesized that by injecting iron particles into a cancerous tumor, the abnormality would cook itself and be destroyed. It was dangerous, as toxic levels of iron were needed to overload the tumors and it was harmful to the rest of the body. Hainfeld set out to make a nontoxic form of the particles in order to solve the problem. Working with fellow researcher Hui Huang, they were able to put a biocompatible shell on the outside of the nanoparticle, rendering it capable of safely traveling through the body.
Newly formed blood vessels on tumors tend to leak anything of a certain size into the blood. Knowing this through lab tests, Hainfeld sized his nanoparticles to slip from the blood vessels and attack the tumors.
Through blood testing, they found that the tumors developed a concentration of iron 16 times higher than the surrounding healthy tissue. Their next step was placing the mice inside an alternating magnetic field, with the hope of overheating and subsequently liquefying the tumors. Watching through an infrared camera, they saw the newly injected tumors spike to lethal temperatures while the rest of the body remained unharmed.
After an injection of the magnetic nanoparticles and a three-minute stint in a magnetic field, 80 percent of the cancer-laden mice were completely cured.
Good news for combination therapy
Chemotherapy works with heat to eradicate tumors, however, its efficiency is notably limited when it comes to deeply embedded growths. With the possibility of magnetic field heating, this treatment could work better, as the nanoparticles would attack the tumors directly. Additionally, the new method would save significantly more brain cells that are typically destroyed during surgery or radiation.
"After so many years in the trenches, I tend to be cautious, but I've never seen such promising results. We're very hopeful," affirmed Hainfeld.
In preparation of the Food and Drug Administration approval, the National Institutes of Health recently granted the research company $1 million worth of equipment for further lab tests.
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