Cancer is one of the most dangerous diseases on the planet right now. It kills thousands of people every year and is very hard to cure even during the non-fatal stages.
A major reason behind this is the fact that cancer cells replicate at an astounding pace, which makes it really hard to keep it isolated to one part of the body.
Once it spreads, it can easily go around wreaking havoc on the body until it makes it completely non-functional. This is why in a lot of cases, the only solution remains surgically clearing out all the cancer cells.
The problem however comes from the fact that it’s not as easy as it sounds. No matter how minutely the surgeon works during the surgery, there’s always a chance that few cancer cells would remain behind.
This causes a big problem as these cells can easily replicate, leading to further need for extensive and potentially dangerous chemo sessions just to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
To take care of this problem, researchers from MIT are working on a new hydrogel patch which is designed specifically for searching and killing these stubborn pockets of cancer.
The patch works by utilizing a three step attack, which starts as soon as the patch is applied. In the first step, tiny gold nanorods are released into the body, which thermally destroy the tumor.
As more heat is applied, the patch then kicks in the second step, which comprises of releasing chemo drugs loaded directly into these nanorods for targeted hunting.
The third and final step uses gold nanospheres which then deliver RNA based gene therapy, so that cancer cell mutation is stopped permanently at a genetic level.
This way, not only is the cancer removed, but is stopped from even coming back again. To make sure that this process works properly, the researchers have already tested this form of therapy on mice.
The result of the experiment was quite impressive, as not only did the patch kill residual cancer cells after surgery, but it also proved useful as a method of reducing the size of the tumor before surgery.
The researchers are now working of finding a way to refine this process further, so that one day it could potentially become a main method of treating cancer in humans as well.