A study published in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’ states that nanoparticles and X–rays together can kill cancer cells deep within the body. Researchers from the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP), Australia identified that a simple chemical could be used to kill cancer cells.
CNBP scientists identified that cancer cells are vulnerable to singlet oxygen produced during the photodynamic therapy for cancer. Photodynamic therapy involves placing light sensitive compounds near diseased cells and then activating them through light. This produces short–lived molecular by–products that can destroy the targeted cells.
Scientists for their project used X–rays (a form of light) to stimulate cerium fluoride (CeF3) nanoparticles that were placed near a group of cells. The combined power of the X–rays and CeF3 led to the production of singlet oxygen that was successfully measured. This is significant because it is the first time that singlet oxygen molecules were successfully quantified. Although the molecular structure of singlet oxygen is O2, they are a high–energy form of oxygen and is very reactive towards the organic compounds with an ability to kill or inhibit the growth of cancer cells. However, they can kill cancer cells only when they are produced in a sufficient quantity.