WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Wednesday, July 21, 2010 A group of researchers from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (WFUBMC) is developing a way to treat cancer by using lasers to light up tiny nanoparticles and destroy tumors with the ensuing heat.
Today at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) in Philadelphia, they will describe the latest development for this technology: iron-containing Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes (MWCNTs) -- threads of hollow carbon that are 10 thousand times thinner than a human hair.
In laboratory experiments, the team showed that by using an MRI scanner, they could image these particles in living tissue, watch as they approached a tumor, zap them with a laser, and destroy the tumor in the process.
If this sounds like science fiction, it is not. The work builds on an experimental technique for treating cancer called laser-induced thermal therapy (LITT), which uses energy from lasers to heat and destroy tumors. LITT works by virtue of the fact that certain nanoparticles like MWCNTs can absorb the energy of a laser and then convert it into heat. If the nanoparticles are zapped while within a tumor, they will boil off the energy as heat and kill the cancerous cells.
The problem with LITT, however, is that while a tumor may be clearly visible in a medical scan, the particles are not. They cannot be tracked once injected, which could put a patient in danger if the nanoparticles were zapped away from the tumor because the aberrant heating could destroy healthy tissue.
Now the team from Wake Forest Baptist has shown for the first time that it is possible to make the particles visible in the MRI scanner to allow imaging and heating at the same time. By loading the MWCNT particles with iron, they become visible in an MRI scanner. Using tissue containing mouse tumors, they showed that these iron-containing MWCNT particles could destroy the tumors
|Contact: Jessica Guenzel|
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center