Ever thought that a microwave could play a vital role in combating the deadly cancer? Well, not really, right? Well, like many we all thought that good old microwave has no better place than mamma’s kitchen. If researchers are to be believed then it is high time to change our perception. For now microwave-activated nanoparticles could be used for treating cancer. Yes, you heard that right. Now, your humble microwave can be used to treat cancer.
But before we move any further, it is important to understand what nanoparticles are. These are extremely small pieces of matter measuring 1-100nm and have certain unusual characteristics that make them efficient in working cellular and inter-cellular level.
According a study published in The Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology, an innovative way of targeting deeply situated cancerous tumor has been established. According to the published study material, the researchers of University of Texas, Arlington (UTA), activated the photosensitive nanoparticles using microwaves. These microwave-activated nanoparticles were then used to target the cancerous cells.
According to the lead researcher, Wei Chen, a Physicist at UTA, this modality of using a microwave for nanoparticle activation has shown immense potential in treating cancer cells.
This method of introducing nanoparticles into kill cancerous cells in tumors is called photodynamic therapy. This treatment involves the generation of singlet oxygen in the tumor cells by using the microwave activated nanoparticles. Singlet oxygen is a highly unstable and super reactive form of Oxygen, which on generation immediately kills the cell by damaging its mitochondria.
This study comes as a breakthrough for cancer treatment as the same team had earlier tried activating the Cu-Cy nanoparticles using X-Rays to get the same result. But the harmful effects of X-Rays on human body could not be ruled out. This method thus had extreme side ffects, thereby forcing the researchers to try new modalities to activate the nanoparticles.
In this new study, researchers have established the fact that now it is possible to use microwaves to activate Cu-Cy nanoparticles, which can then be used to directly target the cancer cells. These microwave-activated nanoparticles are target specific and don’t harm the non-cancerous cells.
The research team had used osteosarcoma or bone cancer cells (in cell cultures and lab animals) to test the new method of treatment. In both the cases these microwave-activated nanoparticles showed exceptional potential in killing the cancerous cells.
The fact that Cu-Cy nanoparticles are low on toxicity and easily available at cheaper cost of production makes them a better choice, as they too are luminescent particles that can be used for imaging purposes.
This research comes as a breakthrough for cancer treatment. Not only does this method offer a cheaper method with little or almost no side effects in comparison to traditional method of cancer treatment like radiotherapy or chemotherapy. The cheaper treatment cost will definitely come as relief for families, who relentlessly crusade against cancer, which till date had no answer. There now seems to be a silver lining for families, whose loved ones are battling a tiring battle against cancer.