Scientists from US are refining measures to use microscopic particles that will stick to chemicals in cancer cells and will show up during scans. This technique is yet to be tested on humans. These implants could let the doctor know about the extent of spread of cancer cells and the effect of drugs on them.
The current procedure of scans and blood test do not highlight the extent of drug penetration in to the tumor. For doctors, it is an uphill task to find out about the appropriate dose of a cancer drug or its efficacy.
Microscopic nanoparticles made out of iron oxide and coated with a sugar called dextran are being used in the project undertaken by a team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). These tiny particles are coated with antibodies, immune system components which can attach itself to specific molecules inside cancer cells. These particles cluster together whenever the target molecules are present which can be spotted while MRI scanning.
The tiny silicon container that houses the nanoparticles are important as it permits the chemical reaction to take place without nanoparticles getting dispersed out of the cancer tumor. This enables the doctor to have long term and detailed view of cancer conditions.
Currently the team is perfecting a few tests which can be tried out in humans. The team is optimistic that the particles can be grouped together by human chorionic gonadotrophin, which is a hormone produced by few cancers and in pregnant women.
Cancer Research UK medical director Professor John Toy while welcoming these tests said that there is a long way for such tests to reach its desirable results.