Researchers at Georgia Tech have created a sort of “Pied Piper” for cancerous cells.
Rather than rely on modern means of killing cancer cells (all of which rarely guarantee results), this method lures cancer cells to their death site. The treatment creates artificial pathways for the cancer cells to travel, which routes them to an easy-to-access area of the body for surgery, or perhaps to a cancer-killing drug.
The researchers stress that it will likely be years before this treatment becomes widely available, though this is a major first step in creating a breakthrough cancer treatment.
Ravi Bellamkonda, lead investigator and chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Dept. of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, stated that,
“the cancer cells normally latch onto … natural structures and ride them like a monorail to other parts of the brain. By providing an attractive alternative fiber, we can efficiently move the tumors along a different path to a destination that we choose.”
It’s certainly something to get excited about, considering the billions and billions of dollars we pour into cancer research each year, with very little to show for our efforts over the years.
The treatment has only been performed in rats so far, but the preliminary data is very promising. Researchers implanted nanofibers into the areas of rat brains where tumors had grown.
One end of the nanofiber was inserted into the tumor and the other into a gel the researchers had created for killing cancer cells. After 18 days, enough cells had traveled along the fiber and had been destroyed to shrink the tumor by 93% more than rats who hadn’t received the treatment.
Ravi believes that this treatment can be used on patients with inoperable cancer to stop the cancer from growing, though it couldn’t actually be fully destroyed.
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