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Magnetic nanoparticle hypothermia for localized prostate cancer

Posted Aug 09 2010 12:00am

The potential to use magnetically charged nanoparticles as a method to treat a variety of forms of cancer by using the particles to heat and kill tumor cells has been around for several years now. Apparently we are getting a little closer to the application of this technology in the treatment of prostate cancer.

Johannsen et al. have recently published a review of their early research in this area, which includes two Phase I clinical trials one using magnetic particle hyperthermia alone, and the second using this technique in combination with brachytherapy. In each case the magnetic nanoparticles are injected directly into cancerous areas of the prostate and then a magnetic field is applied to raise the temperature of the nanoparticles and kill the cells that absorb or are close to the nanoparticles. The theory behind this type of therapy can be seen on a YouTube video , where treatment of a brain tumor is used to exemplify the process.

According to the authors, there are two significant limitations to this technique in prostate cancer patients at the present time: patient discomfort at high magnetic field strengths and irregular distribution of  heat across areas of cancer within the prostate.

In an idea world, it would be possible to “target” magnetic nanoparticles specifically and exclusively to cancer cells within the prostate based on some form of biologic or chemical agent (a monoclonal antibody?) that bound only to prostate cancer cells, so that subsequent application of the magnetic field would heat and destroy only the cancerous cells within the prostate. Whether such a technique is really feasible is still not known at the present time.

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