Cancer treatments complemented with nanomaterials may be more effective than traditional treatments alone such as chemotherapy and radiation, say researchers from Nazarbayev University.
Diagnoses and death rates due to cancer are rising year after year, with current treatments including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. However, the multitude of limitations and side effects these treatments have mean alternative approaches are needed.
Researcher Zhannat Ashikbayeva, Professor Daniele Tosi, and Professor Vassilis Inglezakis, focused on the application of nanomaterials in thermal ablation therapy. Thermal ablation is a technique used in cancer therapy to destroy cancerous cells or tissue with heat.
However, the choice of a suitable heat delivery route to the cancerous tissue is a problem as existing methods show difficulty in differentiating between tumours and surrounding healthy tissue, leading to the damage of non-cancerous cells. The use of nanomaterials is an attractive solution as the nanomaterials can increase the temperature in specific tumour regions. This allows the therapy to target and destroy the cancer cells specifically without affecting healthy surrounding cells. This technique is flexible, low cost, and minimally invasive.
Prof. Inglezakis, Associate Professor of Chemical & Materials Engineering, said: “The goal is not to replace existing therapies but complement in a way that is beneficial to the patient. This should reduce side-effects and help to remove harmful by-products that are produced when patients undergo traditional cancer treatments.”
At present, scientists have successfully tested nanomaterials to heat animal tissues in vitro but the translation to commercial clinical use on human patients has not yet occurred. The researchers of this project aim to stimulate further research into the use of nanomaterials in cancer treatments.