"You can actually watch the tumors shrinking until, one day, they are gone," Torti said. "Not only did the mice survive, but they maintained their weight, didn't have any noticeable behavioral abnormalities and experienced no obvious problems with internal tissues. As far as we can tell, other than a transient burn on the skin that didn't seem to affect the animals and eventually went away, there were no real downsides that's very encouraging."
Current thermal ablation, or heat therapy, treatments for human tumors include radiofrequency ablation, which applies a single-point source of heat to the tumor rather than evenly heating the tumor throughout, like the MWCNTs were able to. In addition to the MWCNTs used in this study, other nanomaterials, such as single-walled carbon nanotubes and gold nanoshells, are also currently undergoing experimental investigation as cancer therapies at other institutions.
"MWCNTs are more effective at producing heat than other investigational nanomaterials," Torti said. "Because this is a heat therapy rather than a biological therapy, the treatment works on all tumor types if you get them hot enough. We are hopeful that we will be able to translate this into humans."
Before the treatment can be tested in humans, however, studies need to be done to test the toxicity and safety, looking to see if the treatment causes any changes to organs over time, as well as the pharmacology of the treatment, looking at things such as what happens to the nanotubes, which are synthetic materials, over time.
The treatment would need to be tested
|Contact: Jessica Guenzel|
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center