367 Views

Scientists Develop New Laser That Can Find and Destroy Cancer Cells in the Blood

Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood. And now, researchers have developed a new kind of laser that can find and zap those tumor cells from the outside of the skin.

Though it may still be a ways away from becoming a commercial diagnostic tool, the laser is up to 1,000 times more sensitive than current methods used to detect tumor cells in blood, the researchers reported June 12 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

To test for cancer spread, doctors typically take blood samples, but often the tests fail to find tumor cells even if they are present in a single sample, especially if the patient has an early form of cancer, said senior author Vladimir Zharov, director of the nanomedicine center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

If the tests do come back positive, that typically means there’s a high concentration of circulating tumor cells in the blood; at that point, the cancer has likely spread widely to other organs and it’s often “too late to effectively treat patients,” Zharov added.

Years ago, Zharov and his team came up with the idea of an alternate, noninvasive method to test larger quantities of blood with a greater sensitivity. Taking the familiar route, they tested it in the lab, then on animals and recently brought it to clinical trials in humans.

The new technology, dubbed the Cytophone, uses pulses of laser light on the outside of the skin to heat up cells in the blood. But the laser only heats up melanoma cells — not healthy cells — because these cells carry a dark pigment called melanin, which absorbs the light. The Cytophone then uses an ultrasound technique to detect the teensy, tiny waves emitted by this heating effect.

They tested the technology on 28 light-skinned patients who had melanoma and on 19 healthy volunteers who didn’t have melanoma. They shone the laser onto the patients’ hands and found that within 10 seconds to 60 minutes, the technology could identify circulating tumor cells in 27 out of 28 of those volunteers.

The device didn’t return any false positives on the healthy volunteers, and it didn’t cause safety concerns or side effects, they said. Melanin is a pigment that is normally present in the skin, but skin cells aren’t harmed, Zharov said. Even though the skin produces melanin naturally, this laser technique doesn’t harm those cells. That’s because the laser light gets scattered over a large area on the skin (so it’s not focused enough on individual skin cells to damage them).

Unexpectedly, the team also found that after the treatment, the cancer patients had fewer circulating tumor cells. “We used a relatively low energy” with the primary purpose of diagnosing rather than treating the cancer, Zharov said. Yet, even at that low energy, the laser beam seemed able to destroy the cancer cells.

Here’s how it works: As the melanin absorbs the heat, the water around the melanin inside the cells begins to evaporate, producing a bubble that expands and collapses, mechanically destroying the cell, Zharov said.

“Our goal is by killing these cells, we can help prevent the spreading of metastatic cancer,” he said. But he hopes to conduct more research to optimize the device further to kill more tumor cells, while still being harmless to other cells.

They also haven’t yet tested the device on people with darker skin, who have higher levels of melanin. Even so, only a very small percentage of African Americans get melanoma.

The team hopes to expand the technology to find circulating tumor cells released by cancers other than melanoma. These cancer cells don’t carry melanin, so to detect them, the researchers would first need to inject the patients with specific markers or molecules that would bind to these cells so that they can be targeted by the laser. They have so far demonstrated that this technique could work on human breast cancer cells in the lab.

30 Comments

  1. Good day very nice web site!! Man .. Excellent .. Wonderful
    .. I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feeds additionally?
    I’m satisfied to search out so many useful information right here within the post, we need work out more strategies in this regard, thanks for sharing.
    . . . . .

  2. Howdy! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest
    authoring a blog post or vice-versa? My website addresses a lot
    of the same subjects as yours and I think we could greatly benefit from each other.
    If you are interested feel free to send me an e-mail.
    I look forward to hearing from you! Excellent blog by the way!

  3. I like the valuable information you provide in your
    articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here frequently.
    I am quite certain I will learn many new stuff right here!

    Best of luck for the next!

  4. Hi, I do believe this is an excellent web site.
    I stumbledupon it 😉 I’m going to return once again since
    i have book-marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you
    be rich and continue to help other people.

  5. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but
    I find this topic to be actually something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me.
    I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll
    try to get the hang of it!

  6. This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger.
    I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your great post.
    Also, I have shared your web site in my social networks!

  7. Thank you for the good writeup. It if truth be told used to be a entertainment account it.
    Look complex to far introduced agreeable from you!
    By the way, how could we keep in touch?

  8. Hello there, just became alert to your blog
    through Google, and found that it is truly informative.
    I’m going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future.

    A lot of people will be benefited from your writing.

    Cheers!

  9. I don’t usually comment any sources of making side money, but today will make an exemption. Have a look on that affiliate program: http://bit.ly/phallomax-affiliate-program . I started almost 6 months ago and I’m already earning whooping $5000 every 30 days – everything by participating on blogs with referal link. Very easy money that can be done basically in your bedroom. Have a look and let me know here, so others might see it’s genuine program. Thanks.

  10. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this
    matter to be really something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and very broad for me.
    I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll
    try to get the hang of it!

  11. Hi there! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to give it a look.
    I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers!

    Superb blog and superb style and design.

  12. Howdy! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a
    quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading your articles.

    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that deal
    with the same topics? Thank you so much!

  13. Great beat ! I wish to apprentice whilst you amend your web site, how could i subscribe for
    a blog web site? The account helped me a acceptable deal.
    I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided vibrant clear idea

  14. Hi! I could have sworn I’ve visited this site before but after
    browsing through a few of the articles I realized
    it’s new to me. Regardless, I’m definitely delighted I came across it and I’ll
    be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!

  15. I simply want to say I’m newbie to blogging and site-building and truly loved you’re blog. More than likely I’m planning to bookmark your blog . You absolutely come with amazing posts. Thanks for sharing your blog site.

  16. Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your web site and in accession capital to assert that I
    get in fact enjoyed account your blog posts. Anyway I’ll be subscribing to your feeds and
    even I achievement you access consistently fast.

  17. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your website and in accession capital
    to assert that I get in fact enjoyed account your
    blog posts. Anyway I’ll be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently
    fast.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*