Implant employs nanotechnology to deter breast cancer

27 March 2012

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

A medical breakthrough that could reduce the risk of patients' breast cancer recurring has been unveiled.

Scientists in the US have used nanotechnology to develop a new implant that appears to deter the risk of cancerous cells regrowing.

The team of researchers from Brown University found that using nanoscale modifications to engineer the surface of a breast implant reduces the blood-vessel architecture used by tumours.

In addition, the US experts said in the magazine Nanotechnology that the implant, made from a common federally-approved polymer, is also successful in attracting the healthy endothelial cells that make up breast tissue.

With one in eight women in the US likely to develop breast cancer at some stage during their lives and malignant cells returning for up to one-fifth of those diagnosed with the disease, the discovery could have substantial implications for treatment in the future.

The "bed-of-nails" surface of the implant provides "features that can at least decrease (cancerous) cell functions without having to use chemotherapeutics, radiation, or other processes to kill cancer cells", stated Thomas Webster, Brown University Associate Professor of Engineering.

Further demand for nanotechnology standards and breakthroughs in the field of biomedical science may come in the shape of a new nanotechnology facility that will be established in North America.

This follows the award of a donation worth $7.5 million to create the Dr John T Macdonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute at the University of Miami.

It will be used to ensure the institution becomes a world leader in the growing field and will link engineering, science and medical specialists together to manipulate materials at the nanoscale in order to develop new methods of treating and diagnosing illnesses.

"We believe the next great opportunity is in the application of nanotechnology to medical problems, and are thrilled to participate in this groundbreaking effort," stated Chairman of the Dr John T Macdonald Foundation, Gary Dix.

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