Tuesday, 06 Oct, 2009 Science

Latest Invention: Nanomagnet that Cooks Cancer Cells to Death


Recently UK researchers unveiled their latest invention - a technology that uses nanomagnet to cure cancer by "cooking" cancer cells as if the latter were stored in a microwave oven. According to the scientists they will begin clinical trials in three years. Experts consider that in future the nanomagnet will be highly cost-efficient.

The latest invention involves the use of a paddle-shaped ''wand'' that produces a rapidly changing magnetic field which increases the temperature of thousands of oxide nanoparticles positioned inside the tumors. In order to send cancer cells into shock and destroy them it is enough to heat the tumors by just 5-6C. While the cancer cells are heated up, the nearby healthy tissue remains unaffected due to the fact that it does not feature the oxide particles.

The most important benefit of making use of "iron fillings" in the treatment lies in the fact that these fillings can be easily tracked using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. With its help scientists will have the possibility to identify the exact location of the particles, which also means that doctors will be able to spot the position of cancer cells in the body. By holding the "wand" over the tumors, doctors will destroy them. In average, one session of such treatment would take about 30 minutes a week.

It is worth mentioning that for their latest invention researchers need to use tens of thousands of iron oxide nanoparticles. However, due to the fact that one measures 8 to 10 millionths of a millimeter, the overall amounts are rather small. To carry out the treatment of an average tumor doctors would need about 0.5mg of iron, reports The Telegraph. Research Councils UK granted GBP 1.6 million for the three-year project. Researchers say that patients suffering from lung and head and neck cancer will be among the first to be treated with the latest invention.

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