Cancer is one of the most well known diseases, yet it is one of the hardest to treat. The research of different treatments for cancer is ongoing and innovative. According to a recent study in South Korea magnets may be the next step in cancer treatment. A way for magnets to assist the body in targeting and killing off cancer cells has been discovered and is being researched and developed.
A problem with current cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy is that they can only be targeted to a certain extent. With this experimental form of cancer treatment, using magnets, the body’s natural functions are used to kill the cells in a tumor. The human body naturally goes through a process called apoptosis, or the process of programed cell death. Apoptosis is used by the body when it is first developing allowing fingers and toes to grow individually, and it is used daily to kill off skin cells that have been damaged by weather. The researchers in South Korea are using this process to target and kill off the cancer cells.
The researchers applied zinc-doped iron oxide nanoparticles to colon cancer cells. This allows for the cells to naturally bind with antibodies, which then bind to the death receptors on the cancer cells. The researchers then applied a magnetic field, which caused the death receptors to send out a signal telling the system to attack the cell. When this occurs chemicals are sent out and the cells of the tumor that had zinc-doped iron oxide nanoparticles on them were killed.
Sadly this innovative new cancer fighting technique has its downsides. In their experiments only half the exposed cells were killed although none of the cells they weren’t targeting were harmed. And when this method was tested on zebra fish some grew abnormal tails, which means that this method may be innovative but it still has plenty of testing to go through before it will be used on humans.