The breakthrough could significantly help in better diagnosis, and treatment of cancer, saving millions, the scientists said.
Currently available cancer diagnosis and treatment options are extremely difficult for both the patients as well as the caregivers.
Leukemia cells, cancer cells examined
The new study by scientists Dmitri Lapotko and Jason Hafner from the Rice University, Houston, Texas, U.S. tested the technique on leukemia cells and cancer cells from the head and neck.
"Single-cell targeting is one of the most touted advantages of nanomedicine, and our approach delivers on that promise with a localized effect inside an individual cell," said Rice physicist Dmitri Lapotko, the lead researcher on the project.
"The idea is to spot and treat unhealthy cells early, before a disease progresses to the point of making people extremely ill."
Using lasers, and nanoparticles, the scientists created nanobubbles of different sizes.
After carefully examining the cancer cells, they found that they could tune the lasers to craft either minute nanobubbles or big bubbles. By fluctuating the laser, the very bright bubbles can be made large or small, they said.
The short-lived bright bubbles are visible under microscope and could be used to diagnose sick cells as well as destroy the cancerous cells.
For the study, the nanoparticles were fastened with antibodies so that they could aim only on the cancer cells.
The tests proved positive, and the approach was found to be effective in successfully targeting as well as destroying the cancer cells, the researchers noted.
Lapotko mentioned, “The bubbles work like a jaskhammer.”
Past research has shown that the nanobubbles could effectively flow through all the deposits which obstruct the arteries.
Nanobubble approach useful
The researchers are hopeful that the nanotechnology technique may be applied for ‘theranostics,’ a single process which merges identification and therapy.
The technique may also be applied to post-therapeutic evaluation or ‘guidance,’ as the physicians call it.
Hafner said, "The mechanical and optical properties of the bubbles offer unique advantages in localizing the biomedical applications to the individual cell level, or perhaps even to work within cells."
The research, which appears in the Journal Nanotechnology, is a collaborated work of Rice University and the Lykov Institute of the Academy of Science of Belarus, Unites States.