Researchers at the University College London (UCL) have figured out a way to kill lethal brain tumors by using MRI to heat up a magnetic metal “seed” to destroy cancer cells. The groundbreaking science was first introduced at The Cheltenham Science Festival in early June.
The seed is injected into the subject’s bloodstream and navigated toward the cancer. The MRI kills the tumor by heating up the seed. According to a report from The Telegraph, the heat only targets the cancer cells and keeps the surrounding cells and tissue safe.
“We can guide it with real precision avoiding any areas that we don’t want to go to, like the sensory motor-cortex in the brain, the area with memories,” said Neurophysiologist and director of the UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging, Mark Lythgoe, PhD. “Once it’s in there we’re able to fire in a simple radio wave and these seeds heat up remarkably well, and kills all the cells around it. You then just guide the seed through the tumour, killing all the cells. And you can do it with real precision right up to the margins of the tumour so there is no tumour left. This is life-changing.”
The scientists at UCL have already successfully tested the technology on pigs, and they plan on starting clinical trials for patients with prostate cancer in the next two years. They hope that by 2023 the technique will be used to eliminate a wide spectrum of cancers.