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Medicine Science

Magnetic Nanoparticles Fry Tumors 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the fried-tumors-are-a-delicacy-in-the-south dept.
sciencehabit writes "In a new study, a team found that injecting mice with tiny magnets and cranking up the heat eliminated tumors from the animals' bodies with no apparent side effects. The nanoparticles heat up when a magnetic field is applied, and because they are only injected into tumors, only cancerous cells get fried. Researchers hope the technique, known as magnetic hyperthermia, could be used in cancer patients, obviating the need for chemotherapy and radiation."
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Magnetic Nanoparticles Fry Tumors

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  • by cheeks5965 (1682996) on Friday July 01, 2011 @06:27PM (#36638148)

    "In a new study, a team found that injecting mice with tiny magnets and cranking up the heat created a new breed of super mice that banded together to fight super villain mutants

  • by zill (1690130) on Friday July 01, 2011 @06:28PM (#36638158)

    What's Magneto's back story again?

  • I wonder how feasible injecting it directly into the tumor is. They need some kind of delivery agent that's preferentially absorbed by cancer cells, then you can just take a pill, walk into a magnetic field, and presto curo.
    • Re:Next step.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kell Bengal (711123) on Friday July 01, 2011 @06:39PM (#36638224)
      The problem is targeting only the tumour with the pill contents. If we had the ability to deliver oral drugs -only- to a tumour, then we could just use targeted chemo treatments and everything would be fine. Unfortunately, it's not that simple, so we need alternatives.

      Part of the problem with turmours is that cutting anything out can spread the tumour by leaving mobile particles and injecting drugs directly allows them to spread to other (life-essential) organs.

      Because these magnetic particles are less mobile than drugs, there is a good chance they'll tend to stay put and only damage the tumour and local tissue, rather than harming the organism as a whole.
      • by NEDHead (1651195) on Friday July 01, 2011 @06:49PM (#36638298)

        To my way of thinking, if the tumor is bad enough that it can swallow a pill, you may as well just give up.

      • by scubamage (727538)
        Really good point, I'm hopeful about the research. It reminds me of radioactive seeding, but without, you know, the radiation. Same net effect, less super damaging radiation hurting the rest of your body.
      • Because these magnetic particles are less mobile than drugs, there is a good chance they'll tend to stay put and only damage the tumour and local tissue, rather than harming the organism as a whole.

        The solution to this is to use guided magnetic targeting. Basically, drugs are encapsulated in a magnetic nanoparticle and injected into the bloodstream relatively close to the cancer site. A magnetic field focusing on the cancer site attracts these particles [nih.gov] and the drugs for the most part do not reach non-cancerous parts of the body

      • John V. Karavitis I saw this on "60 Minutes", some inventor with a limited education came up with this idea, you get small iron particles to reach the tumor, then apply a strong radio frequiency that's picked up only by the magnetic particles which, for some reason, only find their way to the tumors. As the magnetic particles absorb the electromagnetic radiation of the radio frequency, they heat up, leading to tumor death. Something as simple as this technology is a great boon for mankind, and not only f
    • by Ruke (857276)

      I certainly seem to recall hearing about things like this before; I had a high-school chemistry teacher, 10 years ago, saying that he had gotten his PhD in mechanical engineering by doing work on injecting tumors with glass/ceramic beads, and heating those with radiation. (He did the thermodynamics, which was apparently a real bitch because of all of the blood flowing everywhere.) He must have done the work for that degree something like 15 years ago, so the idea of "inject [thing], heat tumor" itself is no

      • by scubamage (727538)
        I think the big thing is this doesn't involve radiation, so the treatments aren't causing the nasty side effects. Overall, very similar to a lot of other treatments too, but the lack of any radiation is the big selling point.
        • Re:Next step.. (Score:4, Informative)

          by LurkerXXX (667952) on Friday July 01, 2011 @08:03PM (#36638692)

          That's not a big thing. We've had ways to do this for decades. More than 20 years ago I did work in Photodynamic Therapy (injecting dyes into tumors. When you shine a light on the dyes, they produce oxygen radicals which kill the cells). We have lots and lots of ways to kill a specific tumor. This is just one more of many wrenches in our toolbox.

          The hard part is designing a therapy which destroys only tumor cells, while leaving normal cells alone. Preserving needed tissue in critical spots (the brain, etc), while allowing it to hunt down individual rogue cells which may have metastasized and be trying to start a new tumor elsewhere in the body.

          That's the the are where we need to focus.

          • by scubamage (727538)

            More than 20 years ago I did work in Photodynamic Therapy (injecting dyes into tumors. When you shine a light on the dyes, they produce oxygen radicals which kill the cells).

            That's really cool! However, was it an invasive procedure? Or were you able to use something like a fiber optic light? I am a lay person for the most part; other than working on PACS/RIS/HIS software for about 5 years.

          • Interesting. Was the research primarily at targeting melanoma?

            • by LurkerXXX (667952)

              No, the most of the emphasis at the time was on use for tumors of the retina. There were hopes, of course it would end up being used in a wide variety of tumors. It has been, but to a very limited extent. It's ended up being mainly used for tumors in the lungs or upper GI tract.

          • http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/article24.aspx [drfuhrman.com]
            "According to the CDC, only one-third of U.S. adults eat two or more servings of fruit per day, and only one-quarter of adults eat three or more servings of vegetables per day. These minimal amounts cannot be expected to provide disease protection. I recommend a far more substantial intake of fruits and vegetables with 90 percent of calories coming from nutrient rich plant material, lots of it raw and green. I recommend about two pounds of vegetables and at lea

            • by iamhassi (659463)
              Parent should be moderated Score:5,Funny

              All these crazy cancer drugs and chemotherapy and all you really needed is a vitamin D injection. Gosh scientists are stupid!
            • by iamhassi (659463)
              Google "kills cancer cells". Apparently garlic, vitamin c, lemon juice, curry spice Turmeric and breast milk all kill cancer cells.
            • by sarkeizen (106737)
              Part of her research involves taking human breast cancer cells and treating them with a potent form of vitamin D. Within a few days, half the cancer cells shriveled up and died

              This kind of thing always gets me chuckling. You realize that the number of compounds you can throw at tumor cells in a petri dish and see them die is orders of magnitude bigger than the the ones where the action is highly selective, where the dosage required to maintain that level at the site is safe.
    • by tloh (451585)

      Not as hard as you think.

      Many existing cancer therapies are remarkably targeted. We've been able to take advantage of the fact that cancerous cells often exhibit abnormal cell surface markers. Monoclonal antibodies would be engineered to manifest high affinity for these abnormal markers. These antibodies can be bio-chemically fitted with highly toxic drugs that would kill the locally cancerous cells while minimally damaging farther healthy cells.

      The thing I'm trying to figure out is how you can safely re

      • They're probably tested to make sure that they are cleared from the body the same way anything else is.
        • by tloh (451585)

          How's that? I mean, how does your body dispose of them *AFTER* they've done the cancer fighting bit but not before. Otherwise, being shot up with the stuff is just completely ineffectual as treatment. I've worked as a manufacturing technician producing small clinical batches of these so-called conjugated antibodies. I can tell you that even after they've been formulated and packaged up, the handling protocol is still ridiculously strict to minimize exposure. These things are hazardous every which way.

          • It depends how large the nanoparticles are, I suppose. Down to a certain size and they can just be filtered out by the kidneys. I have some minor experience working with iron oxide nanoparticles to be used as MRI contrast agents and I believe there was just a window of time during which the MRI could be done and then after a few days the particles would be cleared from the bloodstream. To be honest, I didn't really think too much about it and was kind of shooting off the cuff. Obviously a lot depends on th
          • by byornski (1022169)
            Perhaps the reason they don't want you rubbing your hands through them before they go through patients is to avoid your(and any other accidental) contamination
            • by tloh (451585)

              You sound like you might have experience working in a federally regulated environment. ;-)
              Yes, contamination, obviously cuts both ways. In fact, when we inspect each vial before they are labeled and packaged, my colleagues and I are one of the last lines of defense against product contamination of any kind. Before being qualified to work in our area, candidates undergo an intensive three week training to become proficient at spotting biological contamination, micrometer sized foreign particulates, etc. in

          • by iamhassi (659463)
            Your body is constantly repairing itself, breaking down dead cells and building new cells. White blood cells are responsible for the break down and disposal. The dead cancer cells and nanoparticles will be broken down by WBC and removed from the body thru your kidneys and urine. Google white blood cells for more information or go to medical school.
            • by tloh (451585)

              Google white blood cells for more information or go to medical school.

              Of course! because Google and medical school are similar solutions to the same problems. The subject at hand isn't quite as easily explained with first year biology. As versatile and powerful as they are, no varieties of white blood cells are inherently equip to deal with magnetic nano-particles. Bad things happen when we put things in our bodies that evolution has not devises a way to handle. Ever heard of black lung disease? Developing tolerance to a foreign agent is no easy task. Even though human

    • I remembered reading about some work regarding this. I found an article [understandingnano.com] about the use of specially-designed nanoparticles with ligands matching proteins specific to prostate cancer cells. They were able to deliver the drug with a very high level of success compared to nanoparticles without the ligands and delivery of the drug without nanoparticles at all.

      Perhaps combining that approach with the magnetic particles will provide a means of simply injecting the patient in a suitable location, waiting an appro

    • This idea is crazy, inneficient, damaging, probably requires massive CT scanning and other lesser evils.., but the main problem remains, one cancer cell left behind can respawn the problem. From my POV the only real cure for cancer is giving the immune system markers of cancer cells so the immune system can destroy cancer itself. This can be done, cancer cells are different even if they look "healthy" to the body, we just need to find the way to signal their presence to the immune system and that is all fol
    • You can imagine functionalizing the surface of these nanoparticles with a) a precursor the cancer needs either uniquely or at much higher rate than normal cells to grow, or b) a binding antibody specific to the cancer. These could promote preferential nanoparticle binding or uptake, after which you apply the alternating B field for the local temperature increase.

  • Imagine the post-treatment MRI scan. Ouch!

    • by Rifter13 (773076)

      I have a friend that had staples in here, after a surgery. Another doctor had an MRI done not long after that, and my friend, and the doctor at that point, discovered the staples. It was VERY unpleasant.

    • by slinches (1540051)

      Wait ... I thought the MRI was the treatment.

      Maybe it would even be possible to use fMRI to view and treat simultaneously.

  • by blair1q (305137) on Friday July 01, 2011 @06:35PM (#36638194) Journal

    Anything that cures a cancer is a super win.

    However, this thing requires that you know from outside the body exactly where the tumor is, so that you can target the injection.

    In order to do that you need (near) real-time imaging, and that means CT scan (you're not doing an invasive procedure with magnetic fluid anywhere near a running MRI).

    CT scans are made of multiple X-rays, meaning a much higher total dose of radiation than your average X-ray.

    And X-rays cause cancer. So you're trading one certain tumor for the risk of more tumors. Still a win, if this treatment is itself highly effective.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      I did not know cancer was nomadic and would move tween the time of the scans and the time of treatment

      • by Anonymous Coward

        For all the idiots talking about metastasizing cancer in respond to what the poster said, I believe he means in the time it takes to get an MRI done, then get wheeled down the hallway to a room where you can get your injection of magnetic particles.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ryan420 (221788)

      The fact that this approach would require initial radio-imaging (CT/MRI/PET) doesn't take away from its value. Most cancer patients have to have several rounds of CT/MRI/PET scans anyway. It's required to do the initial diagnosis/prognosis/staging/etc. So treating cancer in many cases is already about making this trade off. Radio-therapy (radiation) is a great example. You can kill off any remaining cancer cells, but you do so knowing there is a much greater probability for certain cancers down the road (pa

      • by Anonymous Coward

        MRI isn't radio imaging. It's magnetic. CT and PET can cause damage from the radiation they give you. MRI doesn't.

      • by scubamage (727538)
        Yup, the CT/MR/PT/MG is usually one of the ways that tumors are initially noticed; it's a small dose of radiation. There's always a risk, but a small dose of radiation when you already have cancerous tumors is probably the least of your worries. What would most likely happen is a scan a day or two before the procedure.
      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >> You can kill off any remaining cancer cells, but you do so knowing there is a much greater probability for certain cancers down the road (particularly those cancers related to the thyroid).

        I think you're overestimating the risk from medical scanning equipment. Unless you mean "a much greater probability" as a 0.001% increase in risk. Maybe.

        I'll cure the hypothetical cancer I have right now, thank you.

    • So you're trading one certain tumor for the risk of more tumors.

      You raise some good points to consider, but in my opinion, the "You have a tumor now. We would like to discover where it's at so we can kill it. However, the imaging process *may* cause cancer some time down the road. Maybe. If something else doesn't kill you first." decision is pretty easy.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      It won't necessarily eliminate chemotherapy for this reason. First you have to find all the tumors, then make sure the magnetic particles encompass all the tumor and not leave some behind. Whereas chemotherapy is meant to kill and reduce that bits left behind. The magnetic particles idea seems more about reducing the need for surgery.

    • They can also use ultrasound to guide the needle/probe/injector to the tumor.

    • Wrong.

      Any procedure like this, especially in sensitive areas like the brain and spine, are done with 3D MRI topography guidance ("Look ma, no glasses!"). Look up STEALTH MRI if you're interested. You basically take high res MRIs with multiple markers placed on the surface of the subjects' skin for reference, then the computer does some fancy math and says "Put needle here, go this deep, then stop".

      Quit the radiation fear mongering. And yes, IAAMD.

  • So don't tell, the catch is that it's trickier getting these particles in the tumours in the first place?

    And why don't the associated researchers barely ever post on slashdot? I mean come on, it's their stuff we're promoting/featuring. Really annoying.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And why don't the associated researchers barely ever post on slashdot? I mean come on, it's their stuff we're promoting/featuring. Really annoying.

      Presumably they don't have the time to waste hours arguing on the internet like the unix neckbeards, MCSE's and unemployed "open source developers" that hang out here.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Pepper component hot enough to trigger suicide in prostate tumor cells ( trivially safely )

    eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-03/aafc-pch031306.php

  • Limits (Score:4, Insightful)

    by currently_awake (1248758) on Friday July 01, 2011 @06:57PM (#36638352)
    There are a few problems with this: 1-you need to know where the cancer is (so why not remove it?) so it can't be used on spreading multi organ cancers 2-you need to stick a needle into it (this isn't safe for some parts of the body) 3-it won't always get all the cancer, just the parts you can reach so this will probably leave cancerous cells in the body afterwards that will settle into some other organ to grow.
    • by sco08y (615665)

      There are a few problems with this: 1-you need to know where the cancer is (so why not remove it?) so it can't be used on spreading multi organ cancers 2-you need to stick a needle into it (this isn't safe for some parts of the body) 3-it won't always get all the cancer, just the parts you can reach so this will probably leave cancerous cells in the body afterwards that will settle into some other organ to grow.

      So it's another therapy, not a panacea. In particular, if the cancer is near a important body parts, as in prostate cancer, this should have fewer side effects than a scalpel.

    • by rdnetto (955205)

      Now I'm no doctor, but it's probably a lot easier to inject a needle somewhere then it is to completely remove a section.

      And even if it isn't a complete cure, isn't it worth it if it increases someone's life span by a few/several years?

  • I thought it was obligatory in any "cancer cure" article to say that it is experimental and may only see practical application in 5 to 10 years. Of course, this is followed by never hearing about the "cure" again.
    • by Belial6 (794905)
      I don't know about you, but I hear about people being cured of cancer all the time. I know several people personally that have been cured of cancers that would have killed them 5 to 10 years earlier.
  • by bhcompy (1877290) on Friday July 01, 2011 @07:24PM (#36638500)
    What can't they do?

    Also, I prefer the egg sandwich from the gas station approach.... well, at least if the cancer was in my pelvic splanchnic ganglion
  • For this next test we put nanoparticles in the gel. In layman's terms, that's a billion little gizmos that are gonna travel into your bloodstream and pump experimental genes and RNA molecules and so forth into your tumours. Now maybe you don't have any tumours. Well don't worry, if you sat on a folding chair in the lobby and weren't wearing lead underpants we took care of that too. - Cave Johnson Aperture Science CEO
  • Prostate Cancer (Score:5, Informative)

    by Penguinshit (591885) on Friday July 01, 2011 @08:13PM (#36638748) Homepage Journal
    My father had a similar procedure to wipe out his prostate cancer. Metal beads injected into tumor, three low-power radio beams focused on the target, beams combine very focally, beads heat, tumor burns away. Macrophages clean up the mess. Dad totally cancer-free for a decade now and has none of the side effects of surgery. thanks University of Virginia!
  • If it has to be injected into the tumor than the tumors must still be identified. Chemo will still be needed to catch smaller tumors that are not identified. So it looks like a less invasive alternative to surgically removing tumors. Useful but a lot way from a cure for cancer.

    • by IonOtter (629215)

      Not necessarily?

      If you use nanoparticles that carry an antibody tag that will collect and/or attach to the tumors, you can just flood the body with them for a few days. Wait for the overflow to pass out, then turn on the switch.

      *VORP!*

      All done in a few shots.

  • This is very close to the work of John Kanzius. [wikipedia.org]

    From the recent paper...

    The conversion of electromagnetic energy into heat by nanoparticles has the potential to be a powerful, non-invasive technique for biotechnology applications such as drug release, disease treatment and remote control of single cell functions, but poor conversion efficiencies have hindered practical applications so far.

    From John Kanzius' Wikipedia page...

    Kanzius RF Therapy is an experimental cancer treatment that employs a combination of

  • this is excellent news for sure but it's no silver bullet. one problem is that it requires you inject the magnetic particles into the tumor which can be tricky and if you miss, it's bad news. another is if you inject too much it will kill the surrounding tissue. you may think a little extra isnt too bad but when the tumor is in your brain, it matters. lastly, there doesnt seem to be any mention of being able to remove the particles. this is a problem if you ever want to have an MRI and not have them al

  • destroying god's work. One step @ a time ^^

  • i have a mother with kemo restent cancer abought to die. i bet she would be willing to give this a human tiral. she relly has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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