A couple years ago researchers from Georgia Tech tested the ability of special magnetic nanoparticles to actually remove cancer cells out diseased tissue of lab mice. Following up on that work, the team recently submitted positive results of a similar experiment performed using human ovarian cancer cells. Although currently still in the laboratory stage of development, the technique may one day help prevent the spread of metastatic cancer cells to healthy and unaffected organs.
From the study abstract in Nanomedicine:
A majority of ovarian cancer metastases result from the shedding of malignant cells from the primary tumor into the abdominal cavity. Free-floating cancer cells in serous effusions of late-stage ovarian cancer patients may spread to internal organs making effective treatment extremely difficult. Selective removal of ovarian cancer cells from serous fluids may abate metastasis and improve long-term prognoses. We have previously shown that superparamagnetic nanoparticles conjugated to an ephrin-A1 mimetic peptide with a high affinity for the EphA2 receptor can be used to capture and remove cultured human ovarian cancer cells from the peritonea of experimental mice. Here we demonstrate the potential clinical utility of the methodology by in vitro capture and isolation of cancer cells from the ascites fluid of ovarian cancer patients.
Press release: Magnetic Nanoparticles Show Promise for Combating Human Cancer
Abstract in Nanomedicine: Selective removal of ovarian cancer cells from human ascites fluid using magnetic nanoparticles
Image: Nanoparticles, in brown, attach themselves to cancer cells, in violet, from the human abdominal cavity. Credit: Ken Scarberry/Georgia Tech