According to an article published in EuroNews, the National Cancer Institute has announced that MIT researchers have developed a device that can locate cancer cells during urine tests. The device itself is so small that it cannot be seen without visual support. The tool may also be adapted to highlight the location of a cancerous tumor during a scan.
The device must still be approved for use in humans. However, once that has been established the tool can be used in the usual urine testing.
Should cancer be detected, the patient would ingest the nanoparticle prior to being tested with a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan to locate cancer.
At this juncture, the device is combined with copper-64 which is a ‘tracer’. It is generally swallowed, injected, or inhaled. Copper-64 is able to track the cancer to its source.
The MIT researchers claim the nanoparticle can detect cancer in any location within the body. That would include tumors that have metastasized, meaning that they have traveled beyond their original location.
Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia, who led the team, commented that their project was well-suited for gauging a patient’s response to treatment. He also noted its value in long-term observation of recurring tumors with an emphasis on colon cancer due to the nanoparticle’s tracing the tumors to the liver and lungs in animal models.
Dr. Bhatia referred to the device as a ‘broad sensor’ that responds to primary tumors as well as their metastases. The device allows physicians to visualize the location of the tumors.
The study was published in the journal Nature Materials. A previous study found the nanoparticles to be safe. The role of nanoparticles has grown recently especially in transporting genes and drugs into tumors as well as their value in imaging.
Nanoparticles perform differently when compared to larger materials in their reaction to chemicals and in the way energy is absorbed.
Nanotechnological and nanoscience methods are responsible for the development of sophisticated devices to detect disease at early stages.
Nanotechnology applications have become indispensable due to their size and superiority in human activity.