Tiny magnets empower human cells to combat tumours

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Washington, Apr 18 (UNI) Researchers have developed a new cancer treatment using microscopic magnets, which enables 'armed' human cells to target tumours.

A new study has shown that inserting nanomagnets into cells carrying genes to fight tumours resulted in many more cells successfully reaching and invading malignant tumours.

Published online in the Gene Therapy, the 'magnetic targeting' method involved inserting nanomagents into monocytes, a type of white blood cell, which kill foreign bodies in humans, and injecting the cells into the bloodstream.

The researchers then placed a small magnet over the tumour to create a magnetic field and found that this attracted many more monocytes into the tumour.

Professor Claire Lewis of the University of Sheffield, the lead researcher said, ''The new technique could herald a new era in gene therapy, one in which delivery of the gene therapy vector to the diseased site is much more effective.'' ''This could also be used to help deliver therapeutic genes in other diseases like arthritic joints or ischemic heart tissue,'' Science Daily quoted him as saying.

Professor Nigel Brown, BBSRC Director of Science and Technology, said, ''This exciting work could have huge implications in healthcare.'' ''Fundamental bioscience research may sometimes seem to have little relevance to everyday life, but understanding the basic workings of the human body and harnessing nanoscale technology has resulted in a process of great potential in tumour therapy,'' he added.

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