Nano-diamonds are effective in detecting cancer cells, according to a new breakthrough study.
If you’re thinking about the world’s most expensive precious stones, used for adornments of all sorts, that is not the case. Diamonds per se are indeed an expensive resource. Regions rich in this resource happen to also be conflict-worn and digging up the gems only adds to a multitude of factors fueling conflict.
What researchers with the University of Sydney, Australia had in mind are the nanoscale, synthetic diamonds that are already used in variety of applications, from scientific to industrial sectors.
The benefits of nano-diamonds used in cancer research are multiple. Firstly, the synthetic nanoscale diamonds do not react with other substances, which renders them safe and stable for patients. They aren’t toxic, so patients who might benefit from this type of detection and prevention method in the future will not suffer side effects. Combined, these two properties make nano-diamonds the perfect means to carry compounds targeting diseases in our body. Safe, stable drug delivery is a breakthrough in medical research.
Professor David Reilly with the University of Sydney School of Physics explained that due to the magnetic traits of nanodiamonds combined with the added advantage of being non-toxic, they could be used in detecting and tracking cancer or tumor cells using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Co-author on the study Ewa Rej, stated:
“This is a great example of how quantum physics research tackles real-world problems, in this case opening the way for us to image and target cancers long before they become life-threatening.”
Nano-diamonds were subject to a process called hyperpolarization before being used as trackers for cancer cells. Due to hyperpolarization, nano-diamonds beam under the magnetic resonance imaging scanner as the alignment of atoms takes place. When loaded with compounds targeting specifically cancer cells, a different process takes place.
Cancer cells are drawn to these chemical compounds, thus attracting the nano-diamonds as well. Detecting them becomes a fairly easier task. So does the monitoring process and the design of a timely and accurate prevention and treatment scheme.
Thus, the researchers explain, nano-diamonds are effective in detecting cancer cells. However, the findings of the University of Sydney study need to be tested in a laboratory setting. For more information, the study is published in the journal Nature Communications.
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