Laser technology can identify and destroy cancer cells circulating in the blood

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Speaking of tumors is always daunting, but in fact, as long as it stays in place, it is not so terrible, we can just uproot it. The malignant tumor is terrible because it is extremely invasive and metastatic, especially after recurrence and metastasis, the mortality rate is very high. According to statistics, the vast majority of cancer patients died of recurrence and metastasis after surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are cancer cells that leave the primary tumor and enter the bloodstream, spreading like a “seed” of cancer in the distance.

There are about 1 billion cells in the blood of each person flowing with the blood circulation, and only one circulating tumor cell may spread to other parts of the body through the blood, so “grabbing” a circulating tumor cell is like a 7 billion earth It’s just as difficult to catch and catch a person.

Now, researchers have developed a new type of laser that can find and destroy these tumor cells from outside the skin. This research was recently published in the journal “Science Translational Medicine”. Although temporarily unable to officially enter clinical application, the sensitivity of the laser is 1,000 times that of the current method used to detect tumor cells in the blood. It is of great value for the early diagnosis and detection of tumor recurrence.

At present, in order to detect whether cancer has spread in the body, we usually take a blood sample to detect the proportion of cancer cells in the blood, called CTC test, but this test is very difficult to find cancer cells, especially early patients.

When we detect cancer cells in the blood, the situation is very bad. This means that high concentrations of circulating tumor cells already exist in the blood. At this time, the cancer may have spread to other organs, and it is too late to think about effective treatment of the patient.


Cytophone ultrasound tumor early screening technology was born!


Many years ago, Dr. Zarov and his team at the Nanomedicine Center at the University of Arkansas School of Medical Sciences came up with an alternative, non-invasive method to test larger amounts of blood with higher sensitivity. They test in the laboratory, then on animals, and recently used it in human clinical trials.

This technology, called Cytophone, uses laser pulses on the outside of the skin to heat cells in the blood. But the laser can only heat melanocytes, because these cells carry melanin and can absorb light. It has no effect on healthy cells-then, ultrasound technology is used to detect the ultrasound waves emitted by this heating effect.

They compared 28 light-skinned patients with melanoma and 19 healthy volunteers without melanoma. They irradiated the laser on the patients’ hands and found that within 10 seconds to 60 minutes, the technology could identify 27 circulating tumor cells in 28 melanoma patients.

The researchers said the technology did not cause any false positives to healthy volunteers, nor did it cause safety problems or side effects. Dr. Zharov said that melanin is a pigment that exists in the skin, but skin laser technology will not harm skin cells, because the laser will scatter a large area on the skin (not concentrated on individual skin cells and Will cause harm).

Unexpectedly, the team also found that this technology can also reduce circulating tumor cells in cancer patients! Zharov said: “We use relatively low energy, the main purpose is to diagnose rather than treat cancer. However, what is completely beyond our imagination is that even at such a low energy, the laser beam seems to kill cancer cells.

Dr. Zharov further studied the anti-cancer principle of this technology: When melanin absorbs heat, the water around the melanin in the cell begins to evaporate, causing bubbles to expand and collapse, physically destroying cancer cells.

Now we know that this technology can kill cancer cells while discovering cancer cells, and can help prevent the metastasis and spread of cancer.

At present, this technology has not been tested on people with darker skin and higher melanin content. The team is expanding the technology to find circulating tumor cells released by cancers other than melanoma. When cancer cells do not carry melanin, researchers can inject other specific markers or molecules that bind to these cells so that they can be recognized by the laser. So far, they have demonstrated that this technique can work on human breast cancer cells in the laboratory. We hope that this technology can achieve clinical transformation as soon as possible, and help more cancer patients find cancer and eliminate it at an early date.

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