Against cancer cells roaming the bloodstream, scientists from the University of Arkansas have developed a new weapon: laser beam, which is in the direction of the skin penetrates into the blood vessels from destroying these little killers, not letting them accumulate in the body in the form of metastasis. In a study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, reported that researchers have successfully tested their system, accurately identifying and destroying cancer cells in 27 of the 28 volunteers who participated in clinical trials.
Effective cancer diagnosis
The developers report that their installation proved to be 1,000 times more accurate than other existing at the moment the same device. This in itself is an achievement, but the researchers emphasize that their system was able to destroy a high percentage of cancer cells in real time.
With further development, the experts of the University of Arkansas, doctors can obtain quick, painless and non-invasive way of finding and destroying cancer cells before they begin forming new tumors in the body.
“This technology has the potential to greatly inhibit metastezirovanii,” — said the Director of the center for nanomedicine at the University of Arkansas and lead the research of Vladimir Zharov.
The spread of cancer cells or the metastasis is the main cause of death from cancer. It occurs when cancer cells separate from a primary source of the disease and begin to move through the body within the circulatory and lymphatic systems, eventually settling in other parts of the body and forming secondary tumors.
If you destroy these embolic tumor cells in the bloodstream, not allowing them to metastasize in other tissues, this will save many lives. Even just the ability to count the number of these embolic tumor cells – a task which was not able to solve none of the previously developed devices will allow us to more accurately diagnose and treat metastatic cancer.
Zharov, along with his team of experts has tested a system that they people with melanoma (skin cancer). The laser is directed at a vein, sending the blood into energy, creating heat. Cancer cells absorb much more thermal energy than normal. Heat causes these cells to expand and break. This thermal expansion creates sound waves – the photoacoustic effect, which may be registered compact ultrasonic transducer, which is placed on the patient’s skin near the site of impact of the laser beam. This device reads, when embolic tumor cells through the bloodstream under the laser.
Using the same laser the scientists were able to demonstrate the process of destruction of embolic tumor cells in real time. Heat generated by the laser, produces on the surface of tumor cells, the vapor bubbles. Upon expansion of the vapor bubbles burst, affecting the cell, destroying it mechanically. Imagine a video game where you destroy the laser the bad guys. The process of destruction of cancer cells is the same.
The purpose of this study, the developers of the laser test the accuracy of the device in identifying cancer cells. But even with the low-energy scan mode, the device could destroy a significant number of embolic tumor cells in the blood of six patients. According to Zharova, in one patient the device could destroy 96 percent cancer cells. The scientist and his colleagues note that the installation efficiency can be much higher in future research, when they use the device at a higher power.
Zharov came to the idea of this technology over a decade ago. Since then, the scientist took her test on animals, demonstrating its safety Commission Agency of the Ministry of health and social services of the United States (FDA), which issued a permit for clinical testing of the device on humans. Zharov claims that this device is the first non-invasive diagnostic device for determining the circulating blood tumor cells.
How else diagnose cancer in the blood?
To date, it was suggested that at least a hundred different device intended for monitoring of embolic tumor cells. However, most of these systems involves taking blood from the vein and subsequent analysis outside the patient’s body. However, only one device, at least in the US, has received approval for use by FDA Committee. It’s called CellSearch, and about the size of the oven. It allows you to fence only a small blood specimen on the basis of which creates the overall picture of cancer cells that may be present throughout the circulatory system. It is clear that because of such low efficiency of this device is not widely used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
In April of this year experts of the University of Michigan announced the creation of a more compact device that is attached to the arm of the patient and pumps the blood in the body, cleaning her from a cancerous one. However, again, testing the dogs in the laboratory showed that the device is capable of processing two to three hours in just a couple of tablespoons of blood.
The device, developed by Zharov and his team, is able to process a liter of blood in about an hour. At the same time without the necessity of pumping from the body. The sensitivity of this system is about a thousand times higher than that of the CellSearch device, the developers say. Further Zharov with the team planning to test its installation on a larger number of people, combining the results with traditional methods of cancer treatment to see the effectiveness of this approach in solving the problem of metastasis.
By the way, the photoacoustic effect was first described by Alexander Graham bell in 1880 with the development of fotofone device for transmission over a distance of sounds with light. Zharov developed a device called “tition” (“cytophone”, “CITO” English “cage”).
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