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New laser treatment zaps away tumours

A combination of lasers and microscopic nanoparticles can zap away tumours, research has shown.

The particles are loaded with tiny grains of iron which can be tracked on a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner.

Once in a tumour they are hit with pulses of laser energy which cause them to heat up and destroy the cancer.

The idea is for injected "nanotube" particles to be carried to tumours in the bloodstream.

Once their position at a cancer site is known, they can be accurately targeted by the laser.

US scientists at Wake Forest University in North Carolina demonstrated the concept in laboratory experiments on mice with breast tumours.


Researcher Xuanfeng Ding, who presented the results to the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, said: "To find the exact location of the nanoparticle in the human body is very important to the treatment.

"It is really exciting to watch the tumour labelled with the nanotubes begin to shrink."

The study used iron-containing Multi-walled Carbon Nanotubes (MWCNTs), threads of hollow carbon that are 10,000 times thinner than a human hair.