A research team led by folks from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences used a combination of preprogrammed nanoparticles and external magnets to capture and collect circulating tumor cells (CTCs) within blood vessels. Additionally, they were able to use laser light to kill CTCs that were accumulated under the skin by magnets placed near the surface.
Vladimir Zharov, director of the Phillips Classic Laser and Nanomedicine Laboratory at UAMS, said his team of researchers can inject a cocktail of magnetic and gold nanoparticles with a special biological coating into the bloodstream to target circulating tumor cells. A magnet attached to the skin above peripheral blood vessels can then capture the cells.
Once the tumor cells are targeted and captured by the magnet, they can either be microsurgically removed from vessels for further genetic analysis or can be noninvasively eradicated directly in blood vessels by laser irradiation through the skin that is still safe for normal blood cells.
A second related discovery by Zharov’s team was published in Cancer Research in October. It demonstrated that periodic laser irradiation of blood vessels decreases the level of circulating metastatic tumor cells more than 10 times and eventually led to an interruption of metastasis development in distant organs.
Press release: Nanotechnology Team Captures Tumor Cells in Bloodstream …
Abstract in Nature Nanotechnology: In vivo magnetic enrichment and multiplex photoacoustic detection of circulating tumour cells
Abstract in Cancer Research: In vivo, Noninvasive, Label-Free Detection and Eradication of Circulating Metastatic Melanoma Cells Using Two-Color Photoacoustic Flow Cytometry with a Diode Laser