Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Biotech Medicine Science

Nanomedicine Kills Brain Cancer Cells 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-two-nanites-and-call-me-in-the-morning dept.
destinyland writes "Scientists from the University of Chicago and the US Department of Energy have developed the first nanoparticles that seek out and destroy GMB brain cancer cells. Nanoparticles killed up to 80% of the brain cancer cells after just five minutes of exposure to white light, showing the promise of nanomedicine — highly-specific intervention at the molecular scale. Because nanomedicine could repair brain cells or damaged nerve and muscle tissue, the NIH has established eight Nanomedicine Development Centers around the country for their Nanomedicine Roadmap Initiative. Researchers have also used gold nanospheres to search out and 'cook' skin cancer cells with light — 'It's basically like putting a cancer cell in hot water and boiling it to death,' says one researcher. And the NIH Roadmap ultimately predicts 'novel tiny sensors ... that search for, and destroy, infectious agents.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Nanomedicine Kills Brain Cancer Cells

Comments Filter:
  • Is it just me or will we be seeing a video game loosely based on this soon ? Sort of ender-esque

    • by Nethead (1563) <joe@nethead.com> on Saturday October 10, 2009 @01:02AM (#29701629) Homepage Journal

      As someone that lost a brother and a sister to brain cancer, I hope it will become as simple as a video game. Even though we lost my sibs back in the early 60's, the ways to fight the disease haven't really advanced as much as I would expect. I hope this tech will be the one that brings humanity beyond this horrible disease.

    • There was a loosely related game to this for the Amstrad CPC home computers in the 80s. You would drive a miniaturized guy inside a human body, collect white cells and release them against infections (simple infections would be killed by your laser) until you could reach for the brain and find your ship for the way out.

      It would also teach you the names of the various organs of the human body.

    • by Gerafix (1028986)
      You could always play Rex Ronan - Experimental Surgeon for the SNES although I highly do not recommend it.
  • Awesome! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Nanoparticles killed up to 80% of the brain cancer cells...

    Awesome!

    ...after just five minutes of exposure to white light

    Wait. What? So much for non-invasive.

    • Nanoparticles killed up to 80% of the brain cancer cells...

      Team these nanoparticles with some microbrews for the ultimate in killer brain food.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Preliminary trials performed on cartoon characters were mostly non-invasive, though results were mixed:

      In late 2008, subject W. E. Coyote was admitted suffering from chronic headaches. MRIs of the patient's brain revealed several cancerous growths on surface of the cortex, likely caused by the subject's attempts to induce "X-ray vision" by applying ACME® 3-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner & Radium to his scalp.

      Researchers injected Mr. Coyote with the nano solution, then showed him a series of vid

    • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by shadwwulf (145057) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @01:28AM (#29701699) Homepage

      Actually, another approach to this is to activate the particles is by way of low-level and non-invasive radio frequency energy.

      This man was the one that started a lot of the research into this kind of stuff: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Kanzius

      As a cancer survivor myself, and somebody that has undergone Chemo, I am very intrigued and hopeful about this type of research. Lets hope it all pans out as we all hope.

      • by noundi (1044080)

        Actually, another approach to this is to activate the particles is by way of low-level and non-invasive radio frequency energy.

        This man was the one that started a lot of the research into this kind of stuff: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Kanzius [wikipedia.org]

        As a cancer survivor myself, and somebody that has undergone Chemo, I am very intrigued and hopeful about this type of research. Lets hope it all pans out as we all hope.

        First off congrats on the victory. Secondly I too am very excited about this, but also all the paralell cancer research that is ongoing. Everything from this hardcore study to almost stumble upon [slashdot.org] ones. In 20 years I've seen cancer going from something horrible, to something very treatable. And in 20-30 years time it will hopefully be as silly as say -- the common flu.

        • Doctor: "I've got some good news and some bad news. The good news is your brain cancer is as easy to cure as the common cold. The bad news is we have no idea how to cure the common cold."
  • Exploit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NovaHorizon (1300173) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:11PM (#29700879)

    Great! Now The government can simply kill off the specific brain cells they find responsible for independent thought!

  • by mrnick (108356) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:15PM (#29700915) Homepage

    "We are Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile."

  • by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:21PM (#29700951) Journal

    Nanoparticles killed up to 80% of the brain cancer cells after just five minutes of exposure to white light

    Side effects may include death of 80% of non-cancer cells.

    • by MrMista_B (891430) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:45PM (#29701057)

      Citation please.

    • Re:Side effects (Score:5, Informative)

      by elashish14 (1302231) <profcalc4@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:53PM (#29701111)

      Usually in these cases, the particles are surface-activated to only attach to cancer cells. What this means is that cancer cells typically have unique antigens on the surface and the nanoparticles are treated to bind only to them. And since proteins are very picky when they pick what other things they bond to, there's a low chance that it will find another cell with similar morphology to attach to. Then again, considering how diverse and extensive the body is, I'm sure that there's a chance that it could find some other cell to bind to; but that's purely a statistical argument, I'm not referencing any biological data on that front.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The antibody in question binds the EGF receptor. Off the top of my head I can think of..... oh about every stem cell in your body that expresses this receptor. The author's system is great in a petri dish, but there's a reason it's published in a low tier journal.

        • Re:Side effects (Score:5, Informative)

          by interkin3tic (1469267) on Saturday October 10, 2009 @03:17AM (#29702019)

          The antibody in question binds the EGF receptor. Off the top of my head I can think of..... oh about every stem cell in your body that expresses this receptor.

          If I recall, it's also expressed at much, much, much higher levels in many cancers than it is in normal cells.

          And the abstract to this paper [nih.gov] suggests that as well: "Overexpression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is observed in many cancers, sometimes accompanied by gene amplification." That abstract also suggests that in at least one type of cancer, the more EGFR you have the worse the cancer is. I'm not a cancer biologist and I'm not reading any more than abstracts tonight, but this paper [nih.gov] and this paper [nih.gov] at first glance seemed to indicate the same thing.

          While the good cells are wearing targets, the bad cells are wearing many more targets, so if your efficiency at hitting targets is lower than 100%, you're going to be killing more bad cells than good cells.

          The author's system is great in a petri dish, but there's a reason it's published in a low tier journal.

          And that reason is probably the following: the 80% of cells in a dish is probably not that impressive compared to developed drugs, however this was just a proof of concept. The wright brothers only flew a few hundred feet. There are undoubtedly refinements that could be made to this system that would increase the efficiency, but it's not to that stage yet. This technology might turn out to be a true cure for cancer once it's refined.

          And don't criticize them for doing it in a dish just yet, this press release [anl.gov] says "So far, tests have been done only on cells in a laboratory setting, but animal testing is planned for the next phase."

          They can hardly be blamed for not delivering the magic bullet cure to cancer in one fell swoop, that's just not how these things work.

    • We saw a headline that said "Nanomedicine Kills". So we shouldn't have anything to do with that, now should we?
    • Side effects may include death of 80% of non-cancer cells.

      I say kill 'em all, let FACS [wikipedia.org] sort 'em out.

      In case you don't get that, fluorescent activated cell sorting sorts out cells, so you see...

    • by physburn (1095481)
      Not to ruin the joke, but the article did say without damaging surrounding normal cells. 80% of the cells isn't bad, but its a treatment not a cure, patients will need to repeat the therapy again and again, as the remaining 20% start to grow back.

      ---

      Cancer Treament [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

  • I, for one, salute our new nano-particle overlords...
  • Wish I had the mind for the science involving any of the nano industries. It's starting to look more and more like it's going to be my generations plastic.
    • Re:Wish (Score:5, Funny)

      by Trepidity (597) <.delirium-slashdot. .at. .hackish.org.> on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:45PM (#29701059)

      It's starting to look more and more like it's going to be my generations plastic.

      I, too, look forward to the giant raft of entangled nanoparticles polluting the middle of the Pacific.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by SydShamino (547793)

        It's starting to look more and more like it's going to be my generations plastic.

        I, too, look forward to the giant raft of entangled nanoparticles polluting the middle of the Pacific.

        You mean entangled nanoparticles like water molecules? They already pollute the WHOLE Pacific.

      • by Artifakt (700173)

        Just until Hiro Protagonist makes them listen to Reason.

        • by WhiteDragon (4556)

          Just until Hiro Protagonist makes them listen to Reason.

          REASON
          Version 1.0B7
          Gatling type 3 mm hypervelocity railgun system
          Ng Security Industries, Inc.
          PRERELEASE VERSION-NOT FOR FIELD USE
          DO NOT TEST IN A POPULATED AREA
          -ULTIMA RATIO REGUM-

  • I read the title and thought, don't we already have substances to do this for us?
    • by meow27 (1526173)
      no because alcohol (in the blood) does not kill brain cells, it deactivates/slows them due to the poison.
    • Alcohol kills the wrong brain cells. But, your comment made me think of another possibility. Addiction is driven by an area of the brain called a "pleasure path." If nanomedicine can kill brain cells, it can probably kill the cells that feed addiction and cure the addiction.
      • by kdemetter (965669)

        That may look like a good solution , but it's a dangerous path : fixing people by killing the 'undesired' braincells.

        "An illegal thought has been detected. The brain cells producing that thought will now be destroyed. Have good day"

  • by Michael G. Kaplan (1517611) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:47PM (#29701073)

    The article states that "cultured human GMB cells" were "killed up to 80 percent... after 5 minutes of exposure to focused white light".

    How exactly are you going to expose a malignant tumor that has diffusely infiltrated the parenchyma of the brain to focused white light? You can't surgically resect a GBM unless you are willing to remove an entire cerebral hemisphere. If you scooped out part of it and exposed the remaining cavity to white light you would barely effect any of the remaining tumor.

    Now if brain tumors only occurred in petri dishes then this treatment would result in a brief remission.

    • by hofmny (1517499) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:02PM (#29701147)
      I don't see the problem really. All you need to do is collide some anti-matter with normal matter, use the energy to warp space time, and use the curvature to bend light particles to the specific areas of the brain.

      You such a pessimist :P
      • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:18PM (#29701243)
        You gest, but see, Proton Therapy [proton-therapy.org]:

        The major advantage of proton treatment over conventional radiation, however, is that the energy distribution of protons can be directed and deposited in tissue volumes designated by the physicians-in a three-dimensional pattern from each beam used.

        and Antimatter Therapy [rsc.org]:

        While an x-ray beam deposits energy along its entire path through the body, a beam of charged particles does damage only after electrical interactions have slowed it sufficiently to create a high chance of collision with atomic nuclei. This means that proton beams deposit most of their energy over a focused area, such as a collection of tumour cells, in the last millimetre of their journey.

      • You didn't mention a sensor array or inverse tachyon pulses so I call your suggestion total shenanigans.

    • Any number of possible solutions. Nanolasers; fiber optics; or they could use x-ray absorbing particles under the surface of the skull which can penetrate soft tissue.

      The research as stated in the article isn't exactly meant to be implemented as is for surgical procedures. It has to be engineered in some way that can be used in actual surgical/therapeutic environments. The REAL STORY is that it's possible using a very simple and effective technique. No one said that it was going to be implemented exactly this way.

      So I actually believe al contrare that there is much to be expected from this treatment.

    • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:10PM (#29701189)

      You can't surgically resect a GBM unless you are willing to remove an entire cerebral hemisphere.

      You don't need to resect. You can access as with a Stereotactic biopsy [wikipedia.org], using a computer and (previously done) MRI scans to generate a 3-D image of the brain mapped to the patient's head during surgery to guide instrumentation. This allows the surgeon to maneuver around blood vessels (bleeding being the most immediate threat) and such. Radioactive disks can be inserted and removed like this as well.

      I believe the system used for my wife's biopsy was accurate to 0.4 mm. They only drilled a "small" (surgeon's words) 5/8 inch hole in her head, behind the right ear, for access. When done, it was patched up and you couldn't tell anything had been done after the incision healed.

      • Sorry, I meant curatively resect. I may have been too bold to even suggest that by removing half the brain it might be possible to cure GBM. GBM can never be cured, and it is not even clear if currently practiced 'palliative' resections extend life. Anyway therapies that use antibodies to target antigens expressed on target cells are promising, but the idea of requiring focused light to target glioblastoma cells that are sprinkle around the brain is pretty futile.
    • by cbnewman (106449)

      first of all, a complete resection of a infiltrative glioma is not possible, because frequently by the time they're diagnosed, they've already crossed the corpus callosum into the contralateral hemisphere (google butterfly glioma. and those are just the cells we can see with MRI. we already know there are micrometastases that are not visible by /any/ currently available clinical imaging modality)

      theoretically, you could do a gross total resection (we do these all the time) and irradiate the surrounding pare

  • Just great... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:51PM (#29701099)

    ... that seek out and destroy GMB brain cancer cells ...

    Wish they had things like this when my wife was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme four years ago. One afternoon, six weeks after diagnosis, she said she was sleepy. We said "I love you" and shared a kiss before she fell asleep. Later that afternoon, swelling around the tumor herniated her brain stem. She never woke up and died in my arms one week later. Twenty years together. I miss her every day and I don't think I'll ever recover.

    Love the people in your life like there's no tomorrow. (We were lucky.)

    P.S. For you Googlers, the more common abbreviation is GBM [wikipedia.org].

    • You have a precious memory, and your experience serves as an example.

      My mother had lung cancer four years ago. It woke me up to exactly what you said in your post. I left Silicon Valley, and moved back to my rural roots.

      Three weeks after I got back, Mom nearly died of anaphylaxis brought on by an allergic reaction to her chemo. As I watched the oncology staff race to save her, I knew that I had made the right choice.

      Today, Mom is doing well, and I relish being with my family, even when we annoy one
    • First slashdot post to bring a tear to my eye.

      I hope this method actually works. That wiki article mentions that there is some evidence of stem-cell like cells in GBM. Numerous treatments in other types of cancers have been able to destroy most cancer cells, but the stem cell population in many cancers is thought to be more resistant to those drugs, and therefore the minority of cells that treatment doesn't kill quickly seed new cancers. Most of those treatments though seem to focus on affecting cell div

    • by DRecords (1653753)
      Absolutely agree, same type of tumor and my wife of 35 years died 4 months after diagnosis. My research showed that they have made minimal advances in treating this type of tumor because of it's aggressive nature. Even with chemo and radiation the tumor grew so rather than subject her to the torture, we took her home and cared for her. It would be nice to have something that you know could cure the tumor, not just extend the misery.
      • I'm saddened by your loss. No one, couple, or family should have to go through this sort of thing. Not only are GBMs aggressive, but are difficult to treat via the "standard" treatment -- resect, chemo, radiation -- without great damage. And since no treatment gets everything, it's all just a stop-gap. For my wife, the tumor location (next to her brain stem) made resection impractical, so the other treatments were much less effective.

        Well-meaning friends would mention Lance Armstrong, or another survi

    • by freespac3 (548049)

      I am sorry for your loss.

  • by hofmny (1517499)
    Seriously, we always read on Slashdot the great experimental breakthroughs, but we never really see the applications and doctors don't even know what is wrong with you half the time. Most of the problems I have had and saw a doctor for, they had no real clue what he problem was. Only later did I realize myself what caused the issue, like a certain food or allergic reaction. Medical practioners can't even tell if you have a virus or a bacterial infection, and instead just prescribe antibiotics because the pa
    • When people start paying 2grand per visit to pay off all the diff machines needed.
      Hopefully though we'll see the costs come down in the future, the doctors can take the symptoms and do their best guess at what it may be, but its not always easy to spot. If they can find out enough to know where the problem may be, send u off for a blood test etc, see a specialist, whatever, then the treatment process can begin.

      • by hofmny (1517499)
        Yeah, but the problem is literally, when the specialist says "Honestly, after examining you I have no idea what could be causing these symptoms, but let's see what the tests say".

        Then later when the tests come in "The tests came back negative, so everything seems OK".

        However, you still have the issue. So now the doctors just go with the most probable explanation which is a total educated guess. This is a problem that I imagine we can only solve with sophisticated (futuristic) diagnostic equipment.
    • And when are we all going to have smart nano devices in our bloodstreams? They will float around, scan for all sorts of diseases, kill cancer as soon as it starts, clear clogs out of blood vessels, strengthen arterial weak points, monitor organ function and hormonal levels, and give a strikingly clear picture of an individual's state of health. Eventually, they will slow aging, and perhaps even stop and reverse it.

      • In an age where firmware upgrades to game consoles still result in bricked devices, I shudder to think what would happen if a bad update to nano devices in every human were pushed through (either mistakenly or maliciously). Besides, if everyone else has nanites to prevent disease, I won't have to worry about it either...
        • by chooks (71012)
          It would certainly give a new twist to the phrase "DMCA take down notice".
      • .. you'd get confusion: is this person already dead or it is still the BSOD glow?

      • And when are we all going to have smart nano devices in our bloodstreams? They will float around, scan for all sorts of diseases, kill cancer as soon as it starts, clear clogs out of blood vessels, strengthen arterial weak points, monitor organ function and hormonal levels, and give a strikingly clear picture of an individual's state of health.

        We already have these, and have had them for a few million years. Most cancers are killed by them when they are only a few cells big. The kind that you hear about are the ones that somehow miss this culling process.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It won't work.

    Having worked on glioblastoma for a major pharma company, I'm quite confident that this is garbage. There's already very nice cures for glioblastoma if you're treating it in a dish... most notably a protein named BMP4. The problem is, you can't deliver it to the brain. If you can't effectively deliver a protein to the brain you're sure as hell not going to be able to shine visible light on the author's fancy nanoparticles in order to activate them in vivo.

  • Nanoparticles killed up to 80% of the brain cancer cells after just five minutes of exposure to white light

    Many people DO report seing a white light as they're about to meet their creator... Now if it were black light... well I guess it would kill 100% of the tumor (as well as a very good portion of colateral damage).

  • by bradbury (33372) <Robert.Bradbury@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Saturday October 10, 2009 @08:12AM (#29702779) Homepage

    The individual who submitted this item and the /. editor who approved it should be accused (and presumably flogged) for spreading buzzworditis. We have had "nanomedicine" using the definition of "medical intervention at the molecular scale for curing disease or repairing damaged tissues" (using sub-100 nm particles) since the discovery of penicillin 80+ years ago (and even earlier if you count some less well known drugs). The only thing offered by most current "claims" of nanomedicine involve more focused targeting, usually using antibodies combined with some focused radiation (heat, light, etc.) and is only the result of the fact that we have a somewhat greater knowledge of which proteins may be more highly expressed by cancer cells combined with somewhat less toxic radiation therapies (IR or visible light vs. X-rays). There isn't anything "new" here. This is simply a refinement of what we have been doing for 30 or more years. If you wanted to call this "nanomedicine" then you should also call the use of the chemotherapeutic drug "Gleevec" (which is now 8 years old) "nanomedicine".

    I was at the conference in the early part of this decade when NIH announced to great fanfare that it was launching a program involving "nanotechnology" and "nanomedicine". It was clear at the time that they didn't know what they were doing (and I stood up in the NIH auditorium and told them so -- and pointed out that they would have to read Drexler & Freitas before they would reach that point). They have gotten somewhat better but by and large they are still doing more of the same (which is a well known problem with the standard medical grant approval research process -- one gets approved by making small incremental improvements, not by really innovating). As a result what goes by the name of "nanomedicine" is really nothing more than fancy chemotherapy.

    It should be noted that we came much closer to real nanomedicine in the 1990's when there was a lot of activity with gene therapy research. Unfortunately due to a few deaths and the FDA squashing such efforts, gene therapy research is largely at a standstill. The work by Sangamo and others is making slow progress but it could have been much further along by now (we could have had virus based "limited intelligence" therapies that would sense what cells are cancerous and caused them to commit suicide).

    Cancer and aging are both very simple. In terms /.'ers will appreciate, "the code becomes corrupted". Cancer is a subset of aging in that a specific subset of the genome (involving those genes regulating cell replication and migration) become corrupted. To fix these problems you have to eliminate the bad code and replace it with good code. In theory what chemotherapy and radiation therapy attempt to do is eliminate the bad code (but grossly -- think using an atom bomb when one would like to use a precision implosion to bring down a Las Vegas hotel). Replacing the cells with good code is what stem cell therapies (if one could use pristine stem cells -- those with unmutated/unaged genomes) would do. Even better would be using bacteria sized nanorobots to scan the code and fix the errors. That is what Robert Freitas has envisioned "chromallocyte" nanorobots doing. But their implementation is so far from the limited NIH vision of "nanomedicine" (think going to the moon vs. launching a bottle rocket in ones back yard) that it is a gross abuse of the term "nanomedicine" when used to describe enhanced chemotherapy.

    Now, for those few who are nanoliterate among the readers... Drexler described a nanoassembler in 1992 (in Nanosystems). Freitas mentioned chromallocytes (and what they could do) in 1999 (in Nanomedicine V I and in more detail in a subsequent technical paper). Drexler and Merkle designed ~5000 atoms of a 4-8 million atom nanoassembler in the 1993 time frame (it took several person-months). We now have supercomputers capable of molecular simulations of nanoassemblers (the ribosome was simulated at Los Alamos in ~2003). After the design and simulate stages one has the build, assemble and test stages. No different from what we have been doing with cars and planes for decades. But we will not get there by seeing if we can build better bottle rockets.

  • What a waste of money. Vitamin D reduces cancer to background noise. Getting rid of chicks' bras gets rid of most of the rest.
    • by MLease (652529)

      What a waste of money. Vitamin D reduces cancer to background noise. Getting rid of chicks' bras gets rid of most of the rest.

      [citation needed]

  • by boggis (907030)
    Time to change my sig.

It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. -- Jerome Klapka Jerome

Working...