ATLANTA — A research team led by the Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a new treatment that can potentially stop cancer cells from migrating inside the human body.
Cells contain cytoskeletons to give them their shape and to carry out functions such as division and movement. The cytoskeletons produce protrusions called filopodia, which extends from fibers inside the cell known as lamellipodia. The protrusions help cells to shift locations.
Lamellipodia and filopodia are overproduced in malignant cancer cells, enabling them to spread around the body at faster speeds. Cancer kills patients often through the spread of malignant cells, which is known as the metastasis process.
The experimental treatments include attaching nanorods comprised of a small collection of gold atoms to the integrin of the cells in order to stop the cytoskeleton from overproducing lamellipodia and filopodia. This slows down the migration of malignant cells.
A low-energy laser of near-infrared light is then used on the cells. The light is absorbed by the gold nanorods, which then partially melts cancer cells and damages lamellipodia and filopodia. This can bring the migration of the cancer cells to an halt. If desired, the laser light can be adjusted to kill the cancer cells.
The experimental treatment shows no observable damage to healthy cells, which is an advantage over commonly used chemotherapy. Scientists also did not see recurrence a of the cancer after it was treated.
The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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