Study Finds that Magnetic Nanoparticles Could Be an Effective Cancer Treatment
Researchers from Nanoprobes, Inc. have claimed that magnetic nanoparticles can potentially cure cancer in a single treatment. Their findings have been published in The International Journal of Nanomedicine. The researchers, led by Dr. James F. Hainfeld, report that animals have been totally cured of cancer after receiving an injection containing magnetic nanoparticles, followed up by three minutes enclosed by a magnetic field.
The concept is simple. When a particle of iron is surrounded by an alternating magnetic field, it spins, which makes the particle heat up. If you can place enough iron particles inside a tumor, it can actually cook the cancerous cells. However, turning the theory into reality is a bit more complex.
One of the primary roadblocks the researchers faced was that the high levels of iron required to treat the cancer is toxic. They attempted to mitigate this by injecting the iron particles directly into the tumor. However, they discovered that if any areas of the tumor were missed, the cancer would eventually return.
Dr. Hainfeld, a leader in the field of nanotechnology, looked at the problem a different way. Instead of trying to find a more exact process for the injection of iron particles into tumors, he decided to modify the iron particle itself. Together with Hui Huang, they spent six years developing a nanoparticle that consisted of an iron core along with a bio-compatible shell (non-toxic). These nanoparticles could then be delivered into the body with no toxicity-related adverse effects.
When the magnetic nanoparticles were ready to be tested, their iron core was enclosed in a shell that was large enough for the core to spin, but was still small enough to be able to easily travel through blood vessels. The particles also contained long polymer-strands that prevented them from entering the liver, which could be dangerous. The particles were then injected into mice that had cancer. The mice displayed no negative reactions to the injections, which was a good sign that the researchers had solved the problem of iron toxicity.
The final phase of the experiment involved exposing the treated mice to a quickly alternating magnetic field. Utilizing a special camera with infrared capabilities to measure the internal temperature of the tumors, they observed the temperatures had increased enough to destroy the cancerous cells, while still leaving the surrounding body tissues unharmed. After the three-minute magnetic field treatment, the researchers claim that the cancerous tumors were completely destroyed. The scientists have claimed to achieve an experimental success rate of 78% to 90% in the mice.
Their research has been recognized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the scientists are presently engaged in conducting more experiments to prepare for approval by the FDA.