I was fortunate enough to have a great conversation last month with one of the most intelligent medical minds that I know, John Kang MC, or John Kang WebMD contributor, a general surgeon and specialist in oncology. John is not only an ethical surgeon and a doctor with a wonderful track record, he is also a doctor who is constantly looking for new ways ind hick he can provide care and treatments for his patients. Of all the innovation topics that we discussed, there was one which really stayed with me and today I want to talk about why for John Kang Liquidmetal could very much be the future of cancer treatments.
Decade of Research
Much of the last 10 years has seen a number of research projects carried out using liquidmetal nanoparticles to treat a wide variety of medical conditions from combat wounds to obesity. These nanoparticles made from the metal have shown a number of benefits in many different conditions, but it took researchers a while to hone in on the most effective. This research led the scientists to look into the diagnosis and treatments of cancer, which brought about great success.
Much of the research hit a stumbling block because the nanoparticles were toxic and wouldn’t remain in the body for very long. A breakthrough two years ago however found a way in which they could use an alloyed gallium indium, which would be in stable liquid form at room temperature, and non-toxic. The real breakthrough came when the doctors and scientists began to use molecules called ligands, to stick molecules of well known chemotherapy drug doxorubicin to the nanoparticles.
Why it Works
The reason why this works so well is that these particles are very small, and can be injected directly into the blood stream. Once the particles hit a tumor cell, they begin to absorb these cells, thanks to other ‘ligands’ which exist on the surface of the metallic particles. Chemotherapy has critics because of the toxic nature of the treatment, given that non-cancerous cells are also heavily affected, with the Liquidmetal approach, this simply doesn’t happen, as only cancerous cells will be treated with the chemo molecules. The most spectacular thing about these particles is that once a tumor is found, they gather together and form liquid metal, which means that doctors can easily see them on scan results.
As John Kang MC rightfully tells me, much of these procedures and treatments take a very long time to get passed through approval, but the Liquidmetal approach may move faster than others. The nanoparticles are very easy and cheap to manufacture, a normal stumbling block with research such. Another factor is the level of research which has already gone on into this treatment, on both humans and animals. The next year or two will see even more testing and then hopefully we will see it rolled out across hospitals.