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Biotech China Medicine

Injecting Liquid Metal Into Blood Vessels Could Help Kill Tumors 111

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes One of the most interesting emerging treatments for certain types of cancer aims to starve the tumor to death. The strategy involves destroying or blocking the blood vessels that supply a tumor with oxygen and nutrients. Without its lifeblood, the unwanted growth shrivels up and dies. This can be done by physically blocking the vessels with blood clots, gels, balloons, glue, nanoparticles and so on. However, these techniques have never been entirely successful because the blockages can be washed away by the blood flow and the materials do not always fill blood vessels entirely, allowing blood to flow round them. Now Chinese researchers say they've solved the problem by filling blood vessels with an indium-gallium alloy that is liquid at body temperature. They've tested the idea in the lab on mice and rabbits. Their experiments show that the alloy is relatively benign but really does fill the vessels, blocks the blood flow entirely and starves the surrounding tissue of oxygen and nutrients. The team has also identified some problems such as the possibility of blobs of metal being washed into the heart and lungs. Nevertheless, they say their approach is a promising injectable tumor treatment.
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Injecting Liquid Metal Into Blood Vessels Could Help Kill Tumors

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  • Coley's Toxins? (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 11, 2014 @08:14PM (#47651875)

    What about Coley's Toxins?

  • by Tippler ( 3027557 ) on Monday August 11, 2014 @08:55PM (#47652031)

    I'm a radiology resident who is at least moderately familiar with embolic agents.

    We already have a liquid embolic agent that solidifies slowly called Onyx. It is only approved for arteriovenous malformations in the central nervous system, but it is used off label for other indications, including tumor embolization: http://www.ajnr.org/content/34... [ajnr.org] [American Journal of Neuroradiology]. The English on the actual liquid metal article is pretty rough and I soon grew tired of trying to decipher it, but from what I did manage to read I cannot see this doing anything better than Onyx already does.

    With regards to embolization to the heart and pulmonary arteries, this happens occasionally with any embolic agent. The cardiovascular system, like the internet, is a series of tubes and the pulmonary capillaries are a fine network of blood vessels that routinely catch tiny blood clots without you even noticing it. It's big emboli that you need to worry about.

  • Re:The side effect (Score:5, Informative)

    by pla ( 258480 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @07:06AM (#47653669) Journal
    Most of the time chemo doesn't work, in which case I could see this being used instead.

    That myth hasn't held true for 30+ years.

    When used against appropriate cancers and caught early enough (which doesn't mean "before you have any reason to suspect you have a problem" anymore), chemo has a very high success rate, on the order of 90% and up. Bladder and testicular cancer, most skin cancers - considered almost perfectly curable. Most leukemias, either curable or sustainable.

    The question you pose applies more out of desperation than practicality. Very few people, when told they have an untreatable cancer, will decide to just sit down and die. No, they ask the doctor to try anything, however nasty, on the off chance it will work.

    We don't complain about antibiotics as a complete failure, despite the fact that they don't treat viruses. The same applies to cancer treatments: use the right drug at the right time.
  • Re: Not gonna happen (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @07:22AM (#47653709)

    Titanium, nitinol are almost irrelevant to mri. It is non ferromagnetic ( and has low permeability) , has high electrical resistance. As a result you get little magnetic force, little eddy current heating and little distortion of the magnetic field. As a result, there are no significant safety concerns and the images are only mildly distorted in the vicinity of the metal.

    Most surgical stainless steel (austentitic) is similar. There is higher magnetic susceptibility so image distortion is significant but as long as the steel is more than 1-2 diameter away from the area of interest, there aren't major problems as long as the steel is well attached to something hard (or away from anything delicate) in case of torque being applied by the magnetic field.

    Martensitic stainless (surgical tool steel) is ferromagnetic. A snapped off drill bit lodged within bone, while not mechanically or thermally dangerous, will suck the image for several inches into a black hole (looks quite like artists impressions of an astronomic black hole).

    Mild steel shrapnel/shot /BBs are a bit more of a problem due to magnetic force and also low resistance. The image distortion is also huge.

    I would expect gallium/indium to be quite similar to titanium, visible on mri, but not a problem.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde