Nanoparticles Spot Cancer
MEDICINE A major weakness of existing cancer detection tools is that tumours often manage to grow to harmful sizes, before they can be seen in scans.
If you spot cancer cell division early, the odds of curing the disease are much higher.
Scientists from Rutgers University in the US, have developed nanoparticles that can accurately trace and identify tumours at an early stage – months before the cancer would materialise in ordinary screening.
Nanoparticles which emit infrared light are injected. The particles are designed to stick to specific types of cancer cells. By reading the light from the nanoparticles, scientists can trace any cancer in the body.
So far, the method has been tested on mice, in several of which the scientists were able to spot early breast cancer.
But that was not all. In the experiment, the scientists could observe the spread of cancer cells to other places in the animals’ bodies – as it was happening.
“We always dreamed of being able to trace the development of cancer in real time, and that is what we have done,” says Prabhas V. Moghe, who coauthored the study.
The results are so promising that, according to the scientists, the new method could already be ready to be used on humans within a period of five years.
Nanoparticles travelling through the blood stream to observe the spread of cancer cells.