Carbon Nanotubes Fight Pancreatic Cancer at its Source

Researchers have developed a way to treat the often untreatable pancreatic cancer by destroying cells from within the body.
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Researchers have developed a way to treat the often untreatable pancreatic cancer by destroying cells from within the body.
nanotube

Photo Credit: © ogwen - Fotolia.com

Researchers from Rice University and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have developed a way to more effectively treat pancreatic cancer using nanotubes. The tubes would potentially deliver drugs straight to cancer cells in the pancreas, with the goal of destroying them from the inside. 

It is often difficult to treat pancreatic tumors as are not operable or cannot be treated through chemotherapy. This is, in large part, due to the lack of early detection methods. 

The nanotubes are delivered through blood vessel walls, which is possible because of their tiny size. The drugs are released through sonication, which releases electrical vibrations to shake the tubes. This process allows the drugs to be released at a controlled rate.

To ensure the nanotubes being used do not rust, researchers had to purify them. They also had to find the correct method for cutting the tubes small enough, as they can be floppy and hard to handle. Currently, researchers are trying to determine just how small the tubes should be -- 50 nanometers is what seems to be ideal.

Next, scientists will be performing tests on mice that have had human tumors implanted in them.