Stanford Medicine researchers created and tested a wireless device small enough to be implanted into a mouse’s brain to kill cancerous cells. In the long run, this could put an end to the unpleasant and lengthy cancer therapies that patients with brain tumours have to under-go.
The implant in issue is remotely activated and warms up nanoparticles injected into the tumour to begin the cancer cell killing spree.
The researchers gave mice with brain tumours 15 minutes of daily treatment for 15 days and found that they had significantly longer survival times.
“The nanoparticles help us tailor the treatment to only the tumour, therefore the side effects will be relatively reduced when compared to chemotherapy and radiation,” said Hamed Arami, Ph.D., co-lead author of the paper.
The use of light to heat nanoparticles to combat brain tumours is not new, but photothermal treatments can only be used when the tumour is directly exposed to the light source during surgery.
The late Sam Gambhir, MD, a former chair of radiology at Stanford Medicine and a pioneer in molecular imaging, contacted Ada Poon, Ph.D, an associate professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University, to develop a new method that would will Help fight brain tumors without baring brain.
“When I read that email from Sam, I noticed that what he wanted to achieve was incredibly connected with what our lab is concentrating on, which is using electronics to treat diseases” Poon said.
How does it work?
After 4 years of painstaking work, researchers have developed a system that can generate heat at the precise location of tumors in order to defeat them. The wireless implant is implanted between the skin & the skull; The gold nanoparticles are then injected into the tumor through a small hole in the skull. The implant emits infrared light that penetrates brain tissue to activate nanoparticles that raise the temperature by up to 5 degrees Celsius. Tumors of various sizes can be destroyed by varying the power and wavelength of light.
Various sizes of tumors can be killed by adjusting the strength and wavelength of the light.
The researchers discovered that mice who received the therapy survived longer than untreated mice. On average, survival times have doubled, even tripled. In combination with chemotherapy, the treatment was successful in making the mice even longer.
“Patients with glioblastoma typically do not live more than 2-3 years after diagnosis because not all parts of the tumor can be removed and the tumor can become resistant to drugs or radiation resistant,” Arami said. “The goal is to combine this with other treatments to prolong survival.
The research was published in Nature Nanotechnology