Scientists have discovered a way to kill kidney tumors – by zapping them with lasers!
Researchers at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, the Wake Forest University Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials, Rice University and Virginia Tech have developed a method of inserting microscopic tubes known as nanotubes into the kidney tumors of mice and firing laser beams through them for 30 seconds to kill off the tumors.
This laser treatment eliminated the cancer in 80% of mice. Researchers are now hopefully they might be able to use the technique on humans.
The near infra-red radiation creates heat, which causes the tumors to shrink and die.
Mice who were given no treatment for their tumors died 30 days into the study. Those treated with nanotubes but no laser treatment also died at about the same time. For those treated with the nanotubes and highest doses of near infra-red radiation, the majority lived and were still tumor-free at the end of the study, which was nine months later.
Suzy Torti, the lead author of the study, said, “It’s great if you can get the tumor to shrink, but the gold standard is to make the tumor shrink or disappear and not come back. It appears that we’ve found a way to do that.”
However, mice are very different anatomically to humans and it is not known whether humans would react in the same way. Safety data on toxicity and side effects would also have to be undertaken and it would have to involve a human trial before the treatment could be used on cancer patients.
The animals in the study showed no after effects other than a minor burn where the laser was fired and they appeared to be healthy, maintained their body weight and displayed normal behaviors. Again, it is not known if humans would respond in the same way but the researchers hope that this will be the case.
Suzy Torti added, “Because this is a heat therapy rather than a biological therapy, the treatment works on all tumor types if you get them hot enough. We are hopeful that we will be able to translate this into humans.”