This story is from the category Augmenting Organics
Date posted: 13/12/2008
Cornell University researcher Michael King has developed a novel prosthetic device. An extra ?organ? for the body which basically removes free-floating cancer cells from the bloodstream, impeding their chances of setting up shop elsewhere in the body.
In what what he calls a lethal "lint brush" for the blood, the new organ is implanted along the walls of one of the body?s peripheral arteries, and flow into a nearby vein. It captures cancerous cells, kills them, then returns the corpses to the blood, freeing up surface area for the next ones. The strategy, which takes advantage of the body's natural mechanism for fighting infection, could lead to new treatments for a variety of cancers, said King.
To capture the tumor cells in the blood, King used selectin molecules -- proteins that move to the surface of blood vessels in response to infection or injury. Selectin molecules normally recruit white blood cells (leukocytes) which "roll" along their surfaces and create an inflammatory response -- but they also attract cancer cells, which can mimic the adhesion and rolling process.
Once the cancer cells adhered to the selectin on the microtube's surface, King exposed them to a protein called TRAIL (for Tumor Necrosis Factor Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand), which binds to two so-called "death receptors" on the cancer cells' surface, setting in motion a process that causes the cell to self-destruct.
The TRAIL then releases the cells back into the bloodstream to die; and the device is left free to work on new cells.
"It's a little more sophisticated than just filtering the blood, because we're not just accumulating cancer cells on the surface," King said.
King's research showed that the device can capture and kill about 30 percent of cancer cells flowing past it a single time, with the potential to kill more in the closed-loop system of the body. Used in combination with traditional cancer therapies, King said, the device could remove a significant proportion of metastatic cells, "and give the body a fighting chance to remove the rest of them."
See the full Story via external site: www.physorg.com
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