Graphene has potential anti-cancer properties, say scientists

Graphene has potential anti-cancer properties, say scientists

6:19 AM, 27th February 2015
Graphene has potential anti-cancer properties, say scientists
Graphene oxide flakes interacting with cell membranes.

MANCHESTER, UK: University of Manchester scientists have used graphene to target and neutralise cancer stem cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. Graphene is the new “wonder kid” in the world of material science – it’s basically a one atom thick sheet of carbon with some amazing properties. It is about 100 times stronger than steel by weight, conducts heat and electricity with great efficiency and is nearly transparent. Researchers already have great things in mind for graphene – it could make the internet 100 times faster and usher away silicon from transistors and microprocessors – but practical applications already exist: we already have graphene sensors, graphene radios and even graphene headphones. Now, they want to further extend the potential applications to medicine.

The team led by Professor Michael Lisanti and Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan has shown that graphene oxide acts like an anti-cancer agent that selectively targets and kills cancerous cells, while leaving healthy ones unharmed.

“Cancer stem cells possess the ability to give rise to many different tumour cell types. They are responsible for the spread of cancer within the body – known as metastasis- which is responsible for 90 per cent of cancer deaths. They also play a crucial role in the recurrence of tumours after treatment. This is because conventional radiation and chemotherapies only kill the ‘bulk’ cancer cells, but do not generally affect the CSCs,” said Professor Lisanti.

However, this shouldn’t be touted as a “cure for cancer” – not yet, anyway. The treatment still needs to undergo several years of testing even before this is tested on humans. Still, the fact that graphene could be applied medically is extremely exciting.

“Graphene oxide is stable in water and has shown potential in biomedical applications. It can readily enter or attach to the surface of cells, making it a candidate for targeted drug delivery. In this work, surprisingly, it’s the graphene oxide itself that has been shown to be an effective anti-cancer drug,” said Dr Vijayaraghavan.

“Cancer stem cells differentiate to form a small mass of cells known as a tumour-sphere. We saw that the graphene oxide flakes prevented CSCs from forming these, and instead forced them to differentiate into non-cancer stem-cells,” added Dr Vijayaraghavan.


© ZME News



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