Tumor cells that spread cancer via the bloodstream face a new foe: a laser beam, shined from outside the skin, that finds and kills these metastatic little demons on the spot.
Researchers revealed that their system accurately detected these cells in 27 out of 28 people with cancer, with a sensitivity that is about 1,000 times better than current technology. That’s an achievement in itself, but the research team was also able to kill a high percentage of the cancer-spreading cells, in real time, as they raced through the veins of the participants.
If developed further, the tool could give doctors a harmless, noninvasive, and thorough way to hunt and destroy such cells before those cells can form new tumors in the body.
Thetechnology has the potential to significantly inhibit metastasis .
Killing these circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, in the bloodstream before they have a chance to settle could help prevent metastasis and save lives. Simply being able to count CTCs could help doctors more accurately diagnose and treat metastatic cancer—something no device has been able to do efficiently.