Scientists use magnets to battle cancer
Scientists from South Korea are testing a new method of curing cancer by subjecting the cancer cells to powerful magnetic fields.
Scientists in South Korea have been hard at work attempting to find a safer and more effective way of defeating cancer. A major problem with cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy, is that you can't specifically target the cells you want to kill. Since cancer cells are mutated and rogue versions of your own cells, it's difficult to create a treatment which targets them, without targeting you: Chemotherapy, for example, kills cancer simply by poisoning your entire body and hoping the cancer dies before you do. Now however, the researchers believe they may be onto something:
They've managed to attach iron-oxide nano particles to antibodies, which then attach to the cell receptors of cancer cells; specifically the so called death-receptor. When a magnetic field is later introduced, the nano particles bunch up and trigger the death-receptor, which immediately signals the cell to initiate apoptosis – or cell death. Chemicals are then sent out, which in turn destroy the tumor.
Basic diagram of the treatment on in-vitro cells (top) and on a zebra fish (bottom)
So far, the new technique has been used on a number of cancer samples, and in one case, killed nearly 50% of a colon cancer, whilst no healthy cells were damaged. In addition, research on cancer cells in a zebra fish proved successful too, though it did cause an abnormal fin growth. Unfortunately, this means the research is still quite far from human trials, but that doesn't mean one can't be hopeful that this might one day change medicine.