A new way to using radiation therapy to destroy cancerous tumors is being developed, which scientists hope, will have fewer side effects and minimal damage to surrounding tissue.
Israel Gannot of Tel Aviv University's has used heat to kill the tumor cells but leaves surrounding healthy tissue intact.
Using specific biomarkers attached to individual tumors, Gannot's special mixture of nano-particles and antibodies locates and binds to the tumor itself.
"Once the nano-particles bind to the tumor, we excite them with an external magnetic field, and they begin to heat very specifically and locally," said Gannot.
The magnetic field is manipulated to create a targeted rise in temperature, and it is this directed heat elevation, which kills the tumors, he said.
The treatment has been proven effective against epithelial cancers, which can develop in almost any area of the body, such as the breast or lung.
The specialized cocktail of nano-particles and antibodies is administered safely and simply, through topical local injection or injection into the blood stream. As an added benefit, the mixture washes out of the body without leaving a trace, minimizing side effects.
If clinical trials are successful, the technique may become a mainstay of patient care.
In addition to being minimally invasive, this treatment boasts sheer speed. It can be applied during an outpatient procedure - the entire technique lasts only six hours - which allows patients to recuperate in the comfort of their own homes.
The findings were published in the journal Nanomedicine.