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New Treatment May Stop The Spread of Cancer Cells

Laser heated gold rods could be a "game changer."

By Kathy CraigPublished 7 years ago 3 min read

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered that removing the limbs of human cancer cells impairs their ability to metastasize, spread and migrate. Most cancer patients die from the spread of tumors to the liver, brain or other vital organs. This new treatment may halt the deadly spread and contain the diseased cells.

Research Findings

Using tiny gold rods to clear away the protrusions on cancer cells that resemble legs, the scientists succeeded in controlling their ability to move and anchor to healthy areas of the body. The researchers believe that targeting these leg-like projections from the outer edges of the cancer cells can be a game changer in the treatment of metastasis.

The gold nanorods were used to immobilize the cells by heating them up with a laser. The rods melted parts of the cancer cells and destroyed the leg-like protrusions. In earlier experiments on animals, researchers found that using a hot beam triggered inflammation in the subjects and that a gentle laser worked much better. After the treatment, there was no damage found to healthy cells which must be allowed to continue their movement and there were no toxic effects from the treatment.

Possible Future Treatments

The treatment can be localized to the affected area. The rods can be injected two to three centimeters inside the tissue and a low power laser can be used to treat head, neck, breast and skin cancers. The treatment can be applied many times if needed because of its mildness and it appears to be very effective in protecting the body from the spread of cancerous cells. Tumors that are deeper within the body would need to be treated with a fiber-optic laser and the rods would need to be injected deeper into the tissue.

How Cancer Spreads

Normal healthy human cells contain a set of instructions in their DNA. Different cells divide and replicated to create different parts of the body. Cells need a variety of things in order to operate normally. Blood carries oxygen, hormones, glucose to the cells to keep them alive and give them the energy and instructions they need to function. The blood also takes the waste products of their work away and the immune system flushes it from the body.

When the set of instructions carried in the DNA of a cell becomes damaged, it can no longer perform the task it was meant to do. It becomes abnormal and the immune system will recognize it as a foreign waste product. The abnormal cells are not harmful as long as the immune system can control their division and duplication. If the reproduction of these abnormal cells gets out of control, they begin to form growths and lumps called tumors. Malignant tumors spread into surrounding tissue and destroy it while working to develop other tumors. Benign tumors may grow and duplicate in one place but they do not spread to other cells. Some benign tumors become malignant over time.

Cancer cells do not behave in the same way as normal cells. The damaged instruction set in their DNA contains a scrambled set of information so the cells do not know what to create, when to stop replicating and when to die. They may break away from one another and move through other systems of the body to begin replicating again. In order to continue their growth, they begin to create their own blood vessels to increase their supply of oxygen, hormones, and glucose. This makes it possible for them to move into the surrounding tissues.

Through their growth and use of important body resources, health complications begin to develop. If the cancerous cells are not stopped, they can deplete the resources of whole organs in the body and shut them down. It is important to remove the tumors but of dire importance to ensure that the spread of the cancerous cells is halted.


About the Creator

Kathy Craig

Kathy Craig is a freelance writer of more than two decades in both print and digital media, specializing in health and science writing. She is currently writing a book about recent medical breakthroughs.

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