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Research: Tiny Magnets That Could Help Win the War on Cancer

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/artic ... ancer.html


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Tiny magnets that could help win the war on cancer

By Martyn Halle

Last updated at 9:34 PM on 07th July 2008

Tiny magnets could soon be used to help kill cancer cells in humans. Nano-magnets, as they are known, are so small that thousands can fit on a pin head.

So far, the only experiments have been on animals, but researchers believe they are only a year or two away from starting human trials.

The magnets are injected in a drug containing human white blood cells. This drug combination hunts cancerous cells and destroys them.

Nano-magnets could soon be used to kill cancer cells in humans

Doctors use an external magnet to help draw the drug more effectively into the tumour.

The new technique has been developed by a team of scientists working at three British universities - Nottingham, Sheffield and Keele.

Cancer specialists hope magnets will be a breakthrough to an effective gene therapy treatment. So far this has eluded them as they have been unable to get enough of the gene therapy into the tumour.

Gene therapy is described as targeted treatment for cancer because it destroys only the tumour.

Traditional chemotherapy - still the mainstay of cancer treatment - uses a poisonous chemical to kill the cancer through an infusion into the bloodstream. But healthy cells as well as cancer cells are destroyed causing side effects.

'Using human cells as delivery vehicles for anti-cancer gene therapy has long been an attractive approach for treating tumours, but these cells usually reach tumours in insufficient numbers to attack them effectively,' says Professor Claire Lewis of Sheffield University, who is one of the lead researchers.

'We are not clear why this is but the use of magnets appears to overcome this problem and make the treatment more effective.'

Researchers placed a small magnet-rather like one that can be bought off the shelf but electrified to increase the forcefield, over the tumour in the trial. They found that the magnetic field attracted many more of the drug- enhanced white blood cells into the tumour than normal gene therapy.

The research has been funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the findings have been published in the journal, Gene Therapy.

The researchers believe the use of tiny metal particles in the body doesn't pose a health risk as relatively few are used.

In animal experiments they do not appear to cause ill health.

'The use of nano-magnets could herald a new era in gene therapy,' says Professor Lewis. 'This new technique could also be used to help deliver therapeutic genes in other diseases such as arthritic joints or damaged heart tissue.'

Another of the researchers, Professor John Dobson, of Keele University, says a major stumbling block to gene therapy appears to have been overcome.

'We have shown we can get more of the treatment into the tumour using magnets,' he says.

'Cancer medicine is moving away from a sledgehammer approach to careful targeting of tumours with drugs, so that the attack on the disease is concentrated.'

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(MAIL Online, July 7, 2008)


The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not posted as medical advice of any kind.

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