21st Century Treatments: Carbon Nanotubes

Nanotechnology has been harnessed to kill cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. It works by inserting microscopic synthetic carbon nanotubule rods into cancer cells. When the rods are exposed to near-infra red light from a laser they heat up, killing the cell, while cells without rods are left unharmed.

Standard chemotherapy destroys cancer cells and normal cells alike. That's why patients often lose their hair and suffer numerous other side effects. Researchers look for a way to selectively kill cancer cells and not damage healthy ones."

The researchers believe it should be possible to refine the technique still further, for instance by attaching an antibody to a nanotubule to target a particular kind of cancer cell. They have already started work on tailoring the technique to target lymphoma in mice. This work is still at a very early stage.

Details of the Stanford University work are published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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