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Radio waves fire up nanotubes embedded in tumors, destroying liver cancer
Date:11/1/2007

HOUSTON - Cancer cells treated with carbon nanotubes can be destroyed by non-invasive radio waves that heat up the nanotubes while sparing untreated tissue, a research team led by scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and Rice University has shown in preclinical experiments.

In a paper posted online ahead of December publication in the journal Cancer, researchers show that the technique completely destroyed liver cancer tumors in rabbits. There were no side effects noted. However, some healthy liver tissue within 2-5 millimeters of the tumors sustained heat damage due to nanotube leakage from the tumor.

"These are promising, even exciting, preclinical results in this liver cancer model," says senior author Steven Curley, M.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Surgical Oncology. "Our next step is to look at ways to more precisely target the nanotubes so they attach to, and are taken up by, cancer cells while avoiding normal tissue."

Targeting the nanotubes solely to cancer cells is the major challenge in advancing the therapy, Curley says. Research is under way to bind the nanotubes to antibodies, peptides or other agents that in turn target molecules expressed on cancer cells. To complicate matters, most such molecules also are expressed in normal tissue.

Curley estimates that a clinical trial is at least three to four years away.

Curley conducted the research at M. D. Anderson in collaboration with nanotechnology experts at Rice University and with Erie, Pennsylvania, entrepreneur John Kanzius of ThermMed LLC, who invented the experimental radiofrequency generator used in the experiments. Kanzius is a cancer survivor and former radio station owner whose insights into the potential of targeted radio waves inspired this line of research.

At Rice, the work was begun by Nobel laureate Richard Smalley, several months before his untimely death from cancer in October 2005.
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Contact: Scott Merville
sdmervil@mdanderson.org
713-792-0661
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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