Cancer harms the body when damaged cells rapidly spreads inside the body. But the reality is cancer cells are not invaders, rather they are our own cells which get turned against us. However, lately some scientists in the US have invented a “Monorail” system which could divert cancer cells from organs and stop them from spreading.
Earlier, there have been many studies done for eradicating cancer or preventing cancer cells from spreading inside the body. For example: a study has found that poor sleep accelerates the growth of cancer cells. Another study revealed that trip to outer space slows down the growth of cancer cells. In addition, some researchers also mentioned that human body just needs better instructions to kill cancer and nothing else. On the other hand, some researchers developed a smartglass that can help surgeons see cancerous cells easily.
However, among many cancers, brain cancer is one and brain tumor is one of the main reasons for brain cancer. Brain tumors are known as Glioblastoma Multiform Cancer (GBM). They are a particularly insidious form of the disease because they just don’t stay still. They travel through the brain by sliding along blood vessels and nerve passageways. This means that sometimes they move to parts of the brain where surgery is extremely difficult. Sometimes even after a surgery, it’s nothing impossible that tendrils of a brain tumor may still exist throughout the brain.
In order to divert cancer cells from organs and stop them from spreading within the body, some researchers at Georgia Tech, US, have invented “Monorail” system. The system involves creating artificial pathways along which cancer can travel. These pathways will be able to route cancer to a more easily operable area, or even to a deadly drug located in a gel outside the body.
Ravi Bellamkonda, lead investigator and chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, said, “We have designed a polymer thin-film nano-fiber that mimics the structure of nerves and blood vessels that brain tumor cells normally use to invade other parts of the brain. The cancer cells normally latch onto these natural structures and ride them like a monorail to other parts of the brain. By providing an attractive alternative fibre, we can efficiently move the tumours along a different path to a destination that we choose.”
The scientists put some polycaprolactone (PCL) fibers, which are half the diameter of a human hair, into the brains of rats in which a human tumor was growing. Researchers implanted one end of a fiber into the tumor inside the brain and the inserted the other into a gel containing the drug cyclopamine (which is toxic to cancer cells) called outside the brain. The fibers led the migrating cancer cells to a “tumor collector.” They also put ordinary fibers into other rats and left a number of others untreated.
18 days later, the researchers found that enough tumor cells had migrated along the fiber into the gel to shrink the tumor size 93 percent more in rats that received the treatment than in those that did not.
Mr Bellamkonda believes that his technique could be used to relocate and/or destroy cancers. It could also be used to help people live with certain inoperable cancers as a chronic condition. He said, “If we can provide cancer an escape valve of these fibers, that may provide a way of maintaining slow-growing tumors such that, while they may be inoperable, people could live with the cancers because they are not growing. Perhaps with ideas like this, we may be able to live with cancer just as we live with diabetes or high blood pressure.”