We’ve all heard about the possibility that someday scientists will be able to inject thousands of nanobots inside our bodies to seek out and destroy cancer cells. Although this may very well be the future, laser-toting nanobots is far from reality. On the other hand, researchers at Rice, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Northeastern University have joined forces in developing a radical, but very real, treatment in the fight against cancer cells that’s almost akin to cellular combat.
In response to the need to address particularly aggressive types of cancers most often associated with the neck and brain, researchers are currently testing a promising new treatment called “quadrapeutics“.
Quadrapeutics integrates four different processes to target and destroy cancers cells without harming the surrounding non-cancerous tissue. It’s a synergistic approach to killing highly lethal cancer cells that represents a shift in the paradigm of traditional cancer treatment, which consists of triggering mechanical events inside our bodies.
First, clinically proven cancer drugs are “encapsulated and tagged with antibodies that target cancer cells.”
Next, colloidal gold nanoparticles (which are smaller than cells) are also tagged with cell-specific antibodies and injected into the patient’s body. These antibody-speckled nanoparticles “then cluster and accumulate inside target cells.” Once inside the target cells, these nanoparticles remain dormant until triggered “by either a laser pulse or radiation.”
Third, medical personnel activate a near-infrared laser pulse to the targeted tumor, causing an evaporation of liquid that expands the injected nanoparticles nestled inside the cancer cells. This expansion is called “plasmonic nanobubbles” that mechanically destroys the cancer cells from within.
Together, the encapsulated drugs, colloidal gold nanoparticles, laser pulses, and X-rays function to enhance the effects of traditional chemotherapy and radiotherapy without additional harm to the patient. The process also enables the application of significantly lower doses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Watch the following video to see the process in action: