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How magnetic wire can help effectively detect cancer early

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Guihiamliu Riamei | Updated on: 17 Jul 2018, 08:42:07 PM
How magnetic wire can help effectively detect cancer early

New Delhi:

A magnetic wire used to snag hard-to-capture tumour cells from blood vessels could prove to be a swift and effective tactic for early cancer detection, according to a new study by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine.

The researchers have come up with a method that involves threading a magnetic wire into a vein, which attracts special magnetic nanoparticles, engineered to attach to any tumour cells that may be roaming in the bloodstream.

With these tumour cells being magnetised, the wire can lure the cells out of the free-flowing bloodstream, removing the tumour from the body.

How magnetic wire works to detect cancer

For the magnetic wire to work circulating tumour cells must be effectively magnetised with nanoparticles.

The nanoparticles contain an antibody that latches onto circulating tumor cells. Once the floating tumour cell and nanoparticle are hitched, the cell drags the tiny magnet around with it.

When the cell-magnet complex flows past the wire, it’s compelled by magnetic force to veer from its regular path in the bloodstream and stick to the wire. Then, the wire is removed from the vein, and the cells are stripped for analysis.               

How magnetic wire can detect cancer cells

The researchers said that the technique could be more effective than standard methods to catch hard-to-find cancer cells in the blood stream.

The technique attracts 10-80 times more tumour cells than current blood-based cancer-detection methods, making it a potent tool to catch the disease earlier. 

It could also help doctors evaluate a patient’s response to particular cancer treatments: If the therapy is working, tumour-cell levels in the blood should rise as the cells die and break away from the tumour, and then fall as the tumour shrinks.

Magnetic wire may also help to detect other diseases

The technique can also be used for any other diseases in which there are cells or molecules of interest in the blood.

“For example, let’s say you’re checking for a bacterial infection, circulating tumor DNA or rare cells that are responsible for inflammation in any of these scenarios, the wire and nanoparticles help to enrich the signal, and therefore detect the disease or infection,” said Sam Gambhir, Chairman of Radiology and Director of the Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection.

Circulating tumour cells can serve as cancer biomarkers, signalling the presence of the disease. But these cells are often scarce and a blood draw only samples a few millilitres of the total blood volume, which in adult humans is about five litres.

“So, we’re hoping this approach will enrich our detection capability and give us better insight into just how rare these circulating tumor cells are, and how early on they exist once the cancer is present,” Gambhir added.

The study was published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

(With inputs from agencies)

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First Published : 17 Jul 2018, 07:27:05 PM