Nanotech And Lasers Team Up To Cure Cancer

When nanotech and lasers team up, is there anything they can't do? Apparently not. New research shows a combined nanotube/laser treatment zaps kidney tumors in 80 percent of mice. Nanotech is teaming up with viruses to kill ovarian tumors, too.

Scientists at Wake Forest University injected multi-walled carbon nanotubes into tumors and then heated them up using a laser, a technique researchers have been talking about for a few years now. But what's exciting is the results of the latest study, published in the Procedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. The mice that received the highest level of treatment saw their tumors disappear completely in 80 percent of cases.

Says Nanowerk:

Using a mouse model, the researchers injected kidney tumors with different quantities of MWCNTs and exposed the area to a 3-watt laser for 30 seconds. They found that the mice that received no treatment for their tumors died about 30 days into the study. Mice that received the nanotubes alone or laser treatment alone survived for a similar length of time. However, in the mice that received the MWCNTs followed by a 30-second laser treatment, the higher the quantity of nanotubes injected, the longer the mice lived and the less tumor regrowth was seen. In fact, in the group that received the highest dose of MWCNTs, tumors completely disappeared in 80% of the mice. Many of those mice continued to live tumor free through the completion of the study, about 9 months later.

You could actually watch the tumors shrinking, say researchers. And the mice maintained their weight and appeared healthy and normal.

A separate bit of research is also encouraging. A new method of delivering diptheria toxin-encoding DNA into ovarian tumors is at least as effective as chemotherapy — with no harmful side effects. And it could be tested in humans as soon as 18 to 24 months from now. In a nutshell, researchers injected nanoparticles into the peritoneal cavity, where ovarian cancer first starts to spread. And the nanoparticles delivered diptheria toxin that was genetically engineered to attack only ovarian cells. The toxin destroyed cells' ability to manufacture proteins.

In the past, scientists have worked on using viruses to deliver toxin-encoding DNA to a tumor, but using biodegradable nanoparticles instead is safer. And the treatment could also work in brain, lung and liver cancers.
Image from Nanotechweb.

[Nanowerk and Nanowerk]