Cancer being killed by golden bullets

The sphere of oncology is experiencing a small revolution: the Nature Nanotechnology authoritative magazine recently published a new method — developed by Belarusian and American researchers — of detecting and eliminating single cancer cells
The sphere of oncology is experiencing a small revolution: the Nature Nanotechnology authoritative magazine recently published a new method — developed by Belarusian and American researchers — of detecting and eliminating single cancer cells. In the past, these could stay idle for some time, later reactivating. Now, onco-surgeons enjoy an additional option: combining golden nano-particles and laser emission to settle the problem forever.


Belarusian researchers make name for themselves

Igor Belotserkovsky, the author of the project and Head of the N. Alexandrov Republican Scientific-Practical Centre of Oncology and Medical Radiology’s Department of Head and Neck Tumours, tells us, “The technique involves injecting golden nano-bubbles before a patient undergoes surgery, in addition to a tumour-detecting drug. These accumulate in cancer cells and, under the influence of laser impulses, the cells explode — destroying the remaining micro-tumour.”

The technology has passed tests on laboratory mice infected with a tumour-carcinoma. Nano-bubbles saved all mice (while a standard approach resulted in reactivation of growth of cancer cells). So far, the treatment has been applied only to head and neck tumours, which account for 3-4 percent of oncological cases, and are among the most difficult to treat.

According to the Deputy Director of the Republican Scientific-Practical Centre for Scientific Work, Sergey Krasny, half of all such tumours are detected only when they reach an aggravated stage, reducing the change of surgical success, since the zone affects vitally important structures. Meanwhile, side-effects of surgery include the possibility of disability or serious facial defects.

The idea of using ‘golden bullets’ was born 15 years ago but it is only recently that the challenge of helping them reach their target has been solved. Joint efforts, between our oncologists and the Director of Laser Technologies of Masimo Corporation, Professor Dmitry Lapotko, have yielded fruit. Financed by the US National Scientific Foundation (alongside other organisations), the innovation has huge potential application, once clinical tests have been completed. In all likelihood, these will be realised in Belarus.

By Lyudmila Kirillova
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