Using nanoparticles and alternating magnetic fields, UGA scientists have found that head and neck cancerous tumor cells in mice can be killed in half an hour without harming healthy cells.
The findings, published recently in the journal Theranostics, mark the first time to the researchers’ knowledge this cancer type has been treated using magnetic iron oxide nanoparticle-induced hyperthermia, or above-normal body temperatures, in laboratory mice.
“We show that we can use a small concentration of nanoparticles to kill the cancer cells,” said Qun Zhao, lead author and assistant professor of physics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
Researchers found that the treatment easily destroyed the cells of cancerous tumors that were composed entirely of a type of tissue that covers the surface of a body, which is also known as epithelium.
For the experiment, researchers injected a tiny amount—one tenth of a teaspoon, or 0.5 milliliters—of nanoparticle solution directly into the tumor site. With the mouse relaxed under anesthesia, they placed the animal in a plastic tube wrapped with a wire coil that generated magnetic fields that alternated directions 100,000 times each second. The magnetic fields produced by the wire coil heated only the concentrated nanoparticles within the cancerous tumor and left the surround Nanoparticles could help physicians detect cancer even if the cancer is not visible to the naked eye with an MRI scan, Zhao said.
The paper’s additional authors are Luning Wang, Rui Cheng, Leidong Mao, Robert Arnold, Simon Platt and Elizabeth W. Howerth, all of UGA, and Zhuo G. Chen of Emory University.