Sidney, Australia – A new study from researchers at the University of Sidney has revealed that diamond stones are not only used for jewels, but they also have an effective role at detecting early-stage cancerous tumors when used at Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
The finding was published on Sunday in the magazine Nature Communications revealing how a synthetic version of a diamond can light up early-stage cancers in non-toxic, non-invasive Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans. The study focused on nano-diamonds which are 4-5 nanometer diamonds found inside meteorites.
Using specifically managed chemicals is not a new science in cancer investigations but the struggle remained in detecting where these chemicals go since there are few ways to evaluate its effectivity.
“We thought we could build on these non-toxic properties realizing that diamonds have magnetic characteristics enabling them to act as beacons in MRIs. We effectively turned a pharmaceutical problem into a physics problem,” said Professor David Reilly from the School of Physics and leader of the study as reported by EurekAlert.
Knowing nano-diamonds as largely non-toxic and non-reactive, the team focused on hyperpolarizing nano-diamonds, a process consisting in aligning atoms inside it to create a signal detectable by an MRI scanner.
“By attaching hyperpolarised diamonds to molecules targeting cancers the technique can allow tracking of the molecules’ movement in the body,” said Ewa Rej, the paper’s lead author to EurekAlert.
The gems have been used before for cancer research when in 2011 a study by the Northwestern University found that attaching them to chemotherapy drugs increased the effectiveness of the treatment, shrinking tumors in mice. It was this previous research what inspired the University of Sidney to try it out by itself.
The next stage of the team’s work involves working with medical researchers to test the new technology on animals. Also on the horizon is research using scorpion venom to target brain tumors with MRI scanning.
Source: Eurek Alert