A recent research shows that diamonds may help clinicians detect cancer earlier. A group of scientists from the University of Sydney said that they combined Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans with microscopic diamond-based technology that lights up cancerous tumors during screening.
Researchers said that the diamonds used with a MRI device do not have their own light, but with help from a little engineering, researchers were able to make them shine.
Ewa Rej, lead author of the study, explained that the team magnetized atoms in the diamonds to enable them to light up when a patient is undergoing a MRI scan. Those atoms are combined with special substances that interact with cancer cells when they meet.
Researchers said that their newly found diamond-based technology literally lights cancer cells up and helps clinicians detect cancer in its early stages without surgery. The team said that they need to inject a cancer patient’s body with those microscopic diamonds which would be carried by the bloodstream through the patient’s system.
If there is a tumor, chemicals that coat diamonds are instantly attracted to that area, while diamonds will begin to shine just like a ‘lighthouse’ on the MRI scan.
Professor David Reilly explained that using those substances to target tumors is a highly advanced technology which was never used with nanoscale diamonds.
“What we’ve done is now develop that lighthouse to image those things in an MRI,”
he also said.
The University of Sydney team believes that the technology has great potential especially with cancers that are really hard to detect at the beginning such as pancreatic and brain cancers.
Cancer researchers were thrilled with the advance. Helen Zorbas, the head of Cancer Australia, explained that tumors that attack the brain and pancreas are very hard to detect but they are also the most deadly of all forms. So, anything that helps clinicians spot them before they go out of control is very welcome.
As a follow-up, Australian researchers plan to use the new cancer detection method on laboratory mice. Yet, it would take several years before it can reach human clinical trials.
But, the announcement that diamonds may help clinicians detect cancer earlier may make people think that the method would be available only for the rich because of its cost. Yet, the team explained that the new technology is not expensive because they would use synthetic diamonds which are very cheap to produce.
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