A Cheap Prototype Device Was Developed To Destroy Skin Cancer Cells

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Apr 10, 2017 11:21 AM EDT

A team of researchers created a cheap, lab-scale instrument for therapies derived from the applications of optical hyperthermia via laser. This technique was designed to destroy skin cancer cells through the application of heat.

The research is a joint project of Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), Universitat Politécnica de Valencia (UPV) and CIBER's Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN). According to the research published in Sensors and Actuators A Physical, overheating the skin cancer cells is attained when synthesized metallic nanoparticles are exposed to radiation.

"When receiving radiation, the particles heat the tumor tissue, reaching a temperature between 42 °C and 48 °C. This cause hypoxia that leads to cellular death," Roberto Montes, a researcher from UPV explained.

According to Phys.Org, the prototype involves an infrared laser that has a power up to 500mW. The power can reach a maximum of 4W/cm2, which records the temperature during the irradiation, and a laser power regulator.

Surprisingly, if the laser is directed on tissues treated with gold nanoparticles (Au-NPs), the untreated tissues will not be affected. This indicates a promising technique for killing skin cancer cells as compared to other methods that cannot recognize between healthy and impaired tissues, Montes said.

Unlike other laser therapies, the new develop technique will not affect healthy tissues. Nanoheaters are instead introduced in the skin cancer cells, which when disturb using a laser, they heated up between 42 °C and 48 °C. The cells will be deprived of oxygen and eventually die naturally.

In fact, the device is already being used winningly in vitro cellular growths and in treatments that integrate hyperthermia with the regulated liberation of drugs. "Although the equipment has been designed to exclusively work in a lab environment, once the technique is refined; it could be easily applied to a hospital environment with small changes," Javier Ibáñez said.

The researchers are looking forward to several clinical trials since the study is still in its phase one. They will test the therapies' effectiveness of destroying skin cancer cells on animal tissue, living animals, and lastly to human.

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