A technique to combat brain cancer using tiny, nano-sized discs that shake the tumor cells to death has been developed by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago Medical Center.
The method, however, is only in the early stages of development, the boffins stressed.
The new technique is detailed in the current issue of the journal Nature Materials.
The new method involves tiny gold-plated iron-nickel discs, which are magnetic. The discs are attached to specific antibodies that help them seek out brain cancer cells, reports Live Science.
Antibodies are the proteins produced by your immune system to attack foreign invaders, such as viruses. In this case, the antibodies are designed to bind to specific targets on the surface of the cancer cells.
The discs sit dormant on the cancer cell until a small alternating magnetic field is applied and the discs start to oscillate, or move. The energy from the shaking is transferred to the cell and induces a kind of "cell suicide." The researchers think the shaking disrupts the cell's membrane and starts a chain of cell signaling that ultimately results in the cell's death.
Since the antibodies are attracted only to brain cancer cells, the process leaves surrounding healthy cells unharmed.