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Blasting cancer from the inside out
Date:12/6/2011

Even when surgical tumor removal is combined with a heavy dose of chemotherapy or radiation, there's no guarantee that the cancer will not return. Now researchers at Tel Aviv University are strengthening the odds in favor of permanent tumor destruction and an immunity to the cancer's return with a new method of tumor removal.

Based on "tumor ablation" a process through which the tumor is destroyed inside the body, Prof. Yona Keisari of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Prof. Itzhak Kelson of TAU's Department of Physics and Astronomy have developed a radioactive wire, less than an inch long and about the width of a pin. When inserted into a solid tumor, the wire releases lethal radioactive atoms that irradiate the tumor from the inside out.

As it breaks down, the tumor releases antigens which trigger an immune response against the cancerous cells, Prof. Keisari explains. Not only are cancerous cells more reliably destroyed, but in the majority of cases the body develops immunity against the return of the tumor, a rare happening when the tumor is removed surgically.

The research has been published in a number of academic journals, most recently Translational Research.

A cancer-fighting cluster bomb

Currently, cancer patients receive gamma radiation when they undergo radiation therapy. Although alpha particles are much more effective, their range is so short that they're unable to penetrate the skin, and therefore ineffective in traditional radiation treatments. As developed in Prof. Kelson's lab, the radioactive wire circumvents the drawbacks of alpha radiation by implanting radioactive ions directly into the tumor.

"The wire is coated in atoms that emit not just alpha particles, but also daughter atoms which are themselves alpha emitters. These particles diffuse inside the tumor, spreading further and further before disintegrating," Prof. Kelson explains. "It's like a cluster bomb in
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

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