Now diamonds could be used in a novel way to act as beacons in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and identify cancerous tumors before they become life-threatening. The study findings revealed how a synthetic version of the precious gem can light up early-stage cancers in MRI scans.
David Reilly from University of Sydney in Australia said, "We knew nano diamonds were of interest for delivering drugs during chemotherapy because they are largely non-toxic and non-reactive. We thought we could build on these non-toxic properties realizing that diamonds have magnetic characteristics enabling them to act as beacons in MRIs."
The investigators turned their attention to hyperpolarizing nano-diamonds, a process of aligning atoms inside a diamond so they create a signal detectable by an MRI scanner.
Study's lead author Ewa Rej from University of Sydney said, "By attaching hyperpolarized diamonds to molecules targeting cancers the technique can allow tracking of the molecules' movement in the body. This is a great example of how quantum physics research tackles real-world problems, in this case opening the way for us to image and target cancers long before they become life-threatening."
The study was published in the Nature Communications.