"Breast on a Chip" Could Lead to Early Breast Cancer Detection

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by Alex A. Kecskes

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, and in the U.S. alone, it kills nearly 40,000 annually. Medical researchers at Purdue University hope to reduce those numbers using nanomedical techniques.

In refining their techniques, researchers recently reproduced portions of the female breast in a tiny slide-sized model--referred to as a "breast on-a-chip"--that they'll use to test nanomedical methods to detect and treat breast cancer.

The new techniques would use nanoparticles to carry contrast agents to improve mammography, fluorescent markers to guide surgeons, and anticancer agents to treat the cancer. Nanoparticles can be designed to hook onto cancer cells and illuminate them, decreasing the size of a tumor that can be detected through mammography from 5 millimeters to 2 millimeters, which translates into finding the cancer 10 times earlier.

Nanoparticles can also be used to deliver anticancer agents directly to cancer cells, eliminating the need for standard chemotherapy, which circulates through the entire body causing harmful side effects. Equipped with a magnetic core, nanoparticles can float through the naturally occurring fluid in the mammary ducts. Once there, the particles can be pulled by a magnet to reach the back of the ducts, where most breast cancers are thought to originate.

For an additional perspective, check out this video:

Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients. Please see more of his blogs at www.sciencecareersiteblog.com and view additional job postings on Nexxt.


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