Researchers at the University of Delaware have developed a unique nanobomb that can be used to detect and blow apart cancer cells, more specifically breast cancer cells.
This latest attack on cancer has been detailed in the journals NanoBiotechnology and Oncology Issues by Balaji Panchapakesan, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UD. The report says that the nanobomb technology is still in its infancy and that it would be many years before it became an actual reality.
Panchapakesan says that the nanobombs were a byproduct of extensive work with carbon nanotubes for the last two years. The main aim of the project was to see if these nanotubes could be used as drug delivery vehicles. "When you put the atoms in different shapes and forms, they take on different properties at the nanoscale," Panchapakesan said. "We were experimenting with the molecules and considering optical and thermal properties, and found we could trigger microscopic explosions of nanotubes in wide variety of conditions." When the other researchers saw these nano explosions, they came up with the idea of using them against cancer cells.
"The nanobomb is very selective, very localized and minimally invasive," Panchapakesan said. "It might cause what I would call nanopain, like a pin prick." He is of the opinion that this therapy would be particularly effective against breast cancer since the shockwaves generated by the explosions kill "the cancerous cells as well as the biological pathways that carry instructions to generate additional cancerous cells."
Panchapakesan said that they were working to direct these therapies towards treating breast cancer, prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer.