Magnetic pulses can burn cancer cells

Cancer can be `burned up` with a new technique that uses magnetic pulses to heat tumour cells.

Last Updated: Dec 06, 2010, 14:27 PM IST

London: Cancer can be `burned up` with a new technique that uses magnetic pulses to heat tumour cells until they die.

Scientists have found they can surround cancer cells with tiny particles of iron-oxide that vibrate when in a magnetic field, causing the cells to heat up.

Tests on mice have shown this can raise the temperature of the tumour cells by six degrees above body temperature, around the point when cancer cells start to die, a newspaper reported.

The researchers hope the new technique, known as hyperthermia therapy, will allow them to target cancer cells in the body and kill them without harming the surrounding or causing the side effects of chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy.

"By putting iron nanoparticles within the stem cells, we can deliver them to the cancer. Vibrating the iron particles causes them to heat up and we can hopefully kill the cells we deliver along with the cancer surrounding it," Sam Janes, clinical cancer scientist at University College London, said.

Janes has been working with Quentin Pankhurst, director of research at the Royal Institution, to develop the technique.

Pankhurst has developed a device that is capable of delivering focused, high frequency magnetic pulses that cause the iron-oxide particle to vibrate extremely fast.

The research was presented at the British Thoracic Society`s winter meeting Friday.

IANS