Tiny magnetic discs just a millionth of a metre in diameter
could be used to used to kill cancer cells, according to a study.
Laboratory tests found the so-called "nanodiscs", around 60
billionths of a metre thick, could be used to disrupt the membranes
of cancer cells, causing them to self-destruct.
The discs are made from an iron-nickel alloy, which move when
subjected to a magnetic field, damaging the cancer cells, the
report published in Nature Materials said.
One of the study's authors, Elena Rozhlova of Argonne National
Laboratory in the United States, said subjecting the discs to a low
magnetic field for around ten minutes was enough to destroy 90% of cancer cells in tests.
In a commentary on the report, Jon Dobson of Keele University in
Britain said antibodies could be used to direct the discs towards
"This provides an elegant and rapid technique for targeting
tumour destruction without the side effects associated with
systemic treatments such as chemotherapy," Dobson wrote. – (Sapa, November 2009)