Nanopar­ti­cles Spot Can­cer

Science Illustrated - - SCIENCE UPDATE -

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.

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