Heat-Based Procedure Using Nanotubes Kills Tumor Cells

Researchers have shown that the by injecting man-made nanotubes into tumors and then heating them with a quick, 30-second burst of laser radiation, they can kill nearly 80 percent of kidney tumors in mice. The researchers said that the finding suggests a potential future cancer treatment for humans. Nanotubes are long, thin, sub-microscopic tubes made of carbon. For the study, researchers used multi-walled nanotubes (MWCNTs), which contain several nanotubes nested within each other. The tubes, when non-invasively exposed to laser-generated near-infrared radiation, respond by vibrating, creating heat. If enough heat is conducted, tumor cells near the tubes begin to shrink and die. In the mice that received the MWCNTs followed by a 30-second laser treatment, researchers found that the higher the quantity of nanotubes injected, the longer the mice lived and the less tumor regrowth was seen. In fact, in the group that received the highest dose of MWCNTs, tumors completely disappeared in 80 percent of the mice. Many of those mice continued to live tumor-free through the completion of the study, which was about nine months later. "MWCNTs are more effective at producing heat than other investigational nanomaterials," saqid Dr. Suzy Torti, lead investigator for the study. "Because this is a heat therapy rather than a biological therapy, the treatment works on all tumor types if you get them hot enough. We are hopeful that we will be able to translate this into humans." This work was published in PNAS in August. [Press release]
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