Unlike normal cells, cancer cells don't have an off switch and ignore the brain's efforts to trigger apoptosis, or cell death. Over the past few months, I've seen/read two reports of people using metals that bond to the cancer cells. Radio waves or a magnetic fields are then used to kill the cancer cells leaving the healthy cells unaffected. Could this be the future of cancer therapy? Here's a bit on both developments.
Last October, 60 Minutes ran a story about a man named John Kanzius. Suffering from leukemia, Kanzius built a radio wave machine he hoped would destroy cancer cells without chemotherapy. The main idea is to inject a cancer patient with gold nanoparticles, expose the patient to radio waves and cook the cancer cells to death. Unfortunately, Kazius lost his battle with leukemia, but created much excitement among cancer researchers. Here are three links to Kanzius' machine from various news programs:
Science Daily recently ran a story about using gold and metal microdiscs connected to brain cancer-seeking antibodies. These nanoparticles bond to cancer cells, and when exposed to a magnetic field they cause the cells to oscillate. This shaking triggers apoptosis and the cancer cells die. Although human trials are still years away, this is a promising therapy. To read the article, click here.
Both of these potential treatments are a huge improvement from chemo and other existing therapies. As my family doctor would put it, it's using a BB gun to kill a mouse, instead of using an atom bomb. The possible lack of side effects is greatly encouraging.
I leave you with the following video, from Iceland's Sigur Ros. It's a few years old (and you can tell by the fact it's the Craig Kilborn show), but it's amazing. Enjoy.