Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cancer Lasers

As in, lasers that shoot at cancer cells to kill them, not lasers that shoot cancer cells at people, or give people cancer. Lord knows we have enough non-lasers giving people cancer that we don't need any other sources.

In what they're calling a "multimodal" (read: multi-step and wicked complicated) approach, the University of Virginia is working with semiconductor nanostructures called quantum dots.

First the patient takes a drug. Then they get bombarded with radiation. The radiation triggers the quantum dots, which start emitting light. The light increases the effectiveness of the drug, which kills the cancer. The tough part is calibrating these approaches so that none of them are harmful to the patient individually, while the lethal overlap occurs only in the cancerous areas.

I have to say that on a mollecular level, this looks a lot more cool than just boiling water.

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The header image is adapted from a photo taken by Bill McChesney and used under a creative commons license.
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