The world needs new ways of murdering cancer cells, and scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have delivered. Their weapon? The much-hyped carbon nanotube, which apart from being electrically conductive, able to be woven into stronger-than-steel fabrics, and just all-around awesome, also happens to useful as an anti-cancer smart missile. By attaching the tubes to an antibody that searches out cancers and binds to it, nanotech expert Pavitra Chakravarty and her colleagues found a way to deliver nanotubes to the cancer. Just about the only thing the tubes appear incapable of is carrying a warhead, though, so researchers fired near-infrared light at the tubes, heating them up until they cooked the cancer into oblivion.
Previous work with antibodies-as-cancer-killing-smart-missiles has involved attaching strong, nasty chemotherapy drugs to the antibodies. That's a good option, but even better would be to not have harsh chemicals circulating in your blood stream in the first place. Using nanotubes and infrared light is a good, pretty safe alternative because IR radiation doesn't damage living tissue. The only drawback is the tumors will need to be less than 1.5 inches deep in the body, about the limit for the radiation's effectiveness.
Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center