Dec 15, 2009 - 10:43 pm
New Zealand scientists have developed tiny "light" particles that can seek out and destroy cancer cells.
Victoria University synthetic chemist Richard Tilley says researchers have established the tools to detect cancer when it is at the stage of a single diseased cell - well ahead of some MRI scans which cannot identify tumours until they are about 2.5 centimetres wide.
"This will mean earlier detection, so it could lead to a better chance of survival," he told The Dominion Post.
After nearly six years the researchers found a way to make tiny silicon particles, or "quantum dots", that gave out light and could be sent safely into the body.
They also found a way to bind the quantum dot to a cancerous cell, so the cell could be found.
The dot could also have drugs attached to it, which could treat the cancer in a targeted way.
Similar particles had been made overseas before but only from toxic chemicals.
"What you find is that, by bringing different experts together, you can create something quite wonderful."
The findings have just been accepted for publication in one of the world's most prestigious science publications, the Journal of the American Chemical Society.