We already have some particularly effective anti-cancer drugs in our armoury, but the biggest problem is that they also nuke your own cells. Researchers have been working up ways of delivering those cancer nuking drugs to the diseased cells only, to better kill off those nasty tumours and save your life. Bursting bubbles with lasers to rip open cancer cells could be the answer.
The new method relies on using lasers to create tiny bubbles within cancer cells clustered around clumps of gold nanoparticles. The bubbles then burst ripping a hole in the side of the cancer cell. That hole then lets the cancer therapy drugs into the tumour cell without harming the surrounding healthy cells.
The gold is first shoved into the cancer cells using antibodies that attach to the surface of the diseased cells. The cancer then ingests the gold nanoparticles, which form a cluster just inside the cell.
A near-infrared laser then blasts the cells, causing the gold nanoparticles to heat up and create small bubbles by vaporising the surrounding medium within the cell. The bubbles expand and burst within nanoseconds creating the hole, so it’s not a long operation, per cell at least.
The beauty of this kind of treatment is that it’s extremely targeted meaning it should be extremely effective at killing off the individual cancer cells. You’ll also need less of the drug in the first place meaning you shouldn’t kill off as many of your healthy cells and you’ll recover quicker.
We’re on the cusp of a genetic and treatment-based understanding of cancer, which could put an end to certain types of the disease. Until then though, these kinds of targeted drug treatments are the best bet. It’ll be a while before we see bubbles taking on cancer cells though, as animal tests are the next step, but it certainly shows promise. Considering cancer kills so many as we’re living longer, I want as many weapons in my doctors’ arsenal as possible, nuclear, genetic or otherwise. [IEEE]
Image credit: Laser from Shutterstock