Magnetized wire could be used to detect cancer in people - (ScienceDaily via NewsPoints Desk)

  • Study findings published in Nature Biomedical Engineering suggest that a magnetic wire used to snag scarce and hard-to-capture tumor cells could prove to be a rapid and effective means for early cancer detection, reported ScienceDaily.

  • The intravascular wire attracts special magnetic nanoparticles engineered to grab onto tumor cells that may be in the bloodstream. With these tumor cells essentially magnetized, the wire can lure the cells out of the free-flowing bloodstream, the news source said.

  • The technique, which has only been used in pigs so far, attracts from 10 to 80 times more tumor cells than current blood-based cancer-detection methods. "It could be useful in any other disease in which there are cells or molecules of interest in the blood," indicated Sam Gambhir, who co-developed the wire.

  • "For example, let's say you're checking for a bacterial infection, circulating tumor DNA or rare cells that are responsible for inflammation in any of these scenarios, the wire and nanoparticles help to enrich the signal, and therefore detect the disease or infection," he said.

  • Gambhir is now working to ready the technique for humans, which involves approval for the nanoparticles. His laboratory is conducting toxicity studies in mice, looking closely at what happens to leftover nanoparticles that do not bind. So far, there are no signs of toxicity, and the extras decay over the course of a few weeks, he said.

  • The researcher is also looking into nanoparticles that are already FDA-approved, working to adjust them for use with the wire. Once the technology is approved for humans, the goal is to develop it into a multi-pronged tool that will boost detection, diagnosis, treatment and evaluation of cancer therapy.

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