Thursday, 7 December 2006

And now Magnetic Cure for Cancer?

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Dec 7: Indian scientists are now busy developing a "magnetic cure" for cancer.
Using nanomagnetic particles cancerous cells in a human body can be killed without affecting the healthy cells in the neighbourhood, says Dr Prahlada, chief controller of the Defence Research and Development Laboratory.
Dr Prahlada, who is also one of the top defence scientists in the country, points out that the magnetic therapy will not allow cancer cells to grow by inhibiting the cell division mechanism. "This is one of the safest mechanisms to treat cancer. The healthy cells in the neighbourhood are left untouched while only the cancerous ones are targeted. This technology allows normal cells to grow but prevents cancerous cells to stop. The treatment is localised," he observes.
Indian scientists as also those in other countries are carrying out research on nanomagnetic particles as part of non-destructive evaluation which is fast emerging as a major field in medicine, aerospace, transport, industry and defence sectors.
According to Prahlada, scientists are also looking out the possibility of enhancing bone age in view of increased life span of human beings. "We have technology to improve heart efficiency which will increase the life span. But the problem is with regard to bones which become weak as a person grows in age. Non-destructive technology will help in identifying the problems if any with bones at an early stage so that the life span of bones is increased to prolong the overall life span of an individual," he adds.
The nanotechnology using magnets focuses on developing uniform particles with a Curie temperature. Nanomagnetic particles will self-regulate the temperature of the tumour during magnetic hyperthermia and thus avoid the use of temperature controls.
In this method there is a defined transfer of power onto magnetic nanoparticles in an alternate magnetic field determined by the frequency, magnetic field strength, materials and the size of particles, which results in local generation of heat. This heat will either destroy the tumour cells directly or result in a synergic reinforcement of radiation efficacy, depending on the equilibrium temperature set in the tumour tissue.
Some of the materials currently being investigated for nanomagnetic therapy include Gadolinium-Zinc ferrite, Caesium, Erbium and magnesium ferrous oxide ferrite.
Earlier, Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy inaugurated a national seminar on non-destructive evaluation - 2006 in which scientists from over a dozen countries participated. Hyderabad has been leading the country in the field of non-destructive evaluation with ECIL, University of Hyderabad and DRDO taking part along with BARC. Non-destructive testing is going to play a major role in security checks in the next five years with terrahertz technology being used to detect weapons and IEDs hidden in vehicles or underground. ND testing is also being used in cancer treatment and in treatment of bone problems.

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