Imagine the same technology that holds cheesy family photographs to your fridge providing a revolutionary method for early cancer detection? Well, you may not have to imagine for much longer.
Stanford University School of Medicine has come up with a method that involves threading a magnetic wire into a vein, which attracts special magnetic nanoparticles that are engineered to attach to any tumour cells you may have roaming free in your bloodstream. With these tumour cells basically being magnetised, the wire can lure the cells out of the free-flowing bloodstream, removing the tumour from the body.
The technique that has so far been used on pigs, attracts 10-80 times more tumour cells than current blood-based cancer-detection methods, making it a very promising tool to catch cancel early. The technique could also help doctors evaluate how a patient is responding to cancer treatment.
Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD, professor and chair of radiology and director of the Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection, is currently focused solely on the wire as a cancer-detection method but admits that its reach could be very wide, extending to detecting other diseases or infections.