Currently, any cancerous tumor found in the human body must be treated with aggressive chemotherapy. Unfortunately, chemotherapy is an arduous, painful treatment that has its own limitations and risks. All of the different chemotherapy drugs were created to kill cancerous cells and, therefore, shrink the tumor. These drugs, however, tend to kill healthy cells as well. Furthermore, doctors usually must combine different chemotherapy treatments to get the most effective result possible, which results in the death of more healthy cells. Cancer treatment is also, of course, quite expensive. Thankfully, scientists at Nanyang Technological University in China are in the process of testing a treatment method that is able to transcend chemotherapy’s limitations.
The most pressing issues of chemotherapy today are that chemotherapy drugs kill cells indiscriminately and cannot sink deeply enough into a tumor to ensure that all of the cancer cells are affected by the chemicals that will kill them. This is where magnetized microbubbles come in. These scientists have found a way to inject the drugs in ‘bubble’ stages, magnetize them, and lead them directly to the tumor. The microbubbles attach to the tumor, and the drug particles sink deep into the mass in order to ensure all cancerous cells are reached. The reach of the microbubbles is 50 cell layers deep.
The scientists who began this project were moved by wanting to find a safer way of treating cancer. They therefore combined magnets and ultrasound technology to create this new treatment method. They started with the understanding that current cancer treatment methods take a significant toll on the human body, and they may not even be entirely effective long term. It is not uncommon for those who undergo chemotherapy to be in remission, only to have their cancer reappear after a certain amount of time.
If effective, cancer treatment will be more effective, less invasive, and less costly overall. Localizing the cancer treatment drug will ensure that healthy cells are affected less, and cancerous cells are wiped out at their core. Patients will not have to undergo significant duress while in treatment, and their bodies will not be as detrimentally affected by the time treatment ends.
Unfortunately, there is a long way to go before this new method of delivery is tested on human patients. Currently, the 12 person, international team is working on perfecting their methods and running tests on different types of cancer. It is estimated that it will take about 10 years until this method is tested on human subjects.