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SNUH team develops new nanomaterial for thermal cancer therapy
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2018.01.05 15:13
  • Updated 2018.01.11 17:36
  • comments 0

The Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH) said Friday it has developed a new nanomaterial that can improve the therapeutic benefits of the thermal cancer therapy.

Thermal cancer therapy is a treatment that inserts magnetic nanoparticles in cancer cells and applies a magnetic field. The procedure generates heat in the nanoparticles, which in turn destroys the cancer cells. The treatment treats specific cancer cells and minimizes adverse effects caused by lymphocyte cells or DNA deformation. It can also kill cancer cells in a short period while blocking any further cancer cell metastasis.

However, the problem with current therapy is that the magnetic nanoparticles release only a small amount of heat. For the treatment to be effective, a significant amount of nanoparticles had to be injected to dissipate enough heat to destroy the cancer cells.

From left Professors Baek Sun-ha, Kang Keon-wook, Park Ki-ho and Bae Seong-tae

A SNUH team led by Professors Baek Sun-ha, Kang Keon-wook and Park Ki-ho developed a new magnesium nanomaterial that generates heat, which is harmless to patients, at low frequencies. Professor Bae Seong-tae of the department of electrical engineering at the University of South Carolina also participated in the research.

The researchers proved the safety of the treatment by using a magnesium nanomaterial that has the same components as the iron oxide approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for medical use. However, the newly developed nanomaterial has heat generation efficiency that is 100 times greater than the original. The particle can also reach temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius, which is to be the most effective temperature for killing cancer cells.

The research team has already validated the efficacy of the nanomaterial through a preclinical trial.

“In the case of malignant brain tumors, the conventional therapy, which is a combination of temozolomide and radiation therapy, can prolong the patient’s life only up to two to four months,” Baek said. “However, the disadvantage of both therapies was that the patients developed tolerance to the treatment.”

The research team expects that the thermal cancer therapy using the developed nanomaterials will become a next-generation treatment as it can physically divide cancer cells without the patients developing any tolerance, Baek added.


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