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Traditional Chinese ink could be used as a cancer treatment

One of the greatest threats for cancer patients is metastasis, when cancer cells leave tumors and enter the lymph nodes. But treating metastasis by surgery is also risky and can bring about many complications, so researchers have been striving to find better, non-invasive ways of combating it.

Now, a new study has found that a traditional Chinese ink called Hu-Kaiwen ink, or Hu-ink, could be used as an alternative in photothermal therapies or PTT.

PTT is a new tumor treatment option that injects nanomaterials into the tumor cells, then a laser heats up the material which kills the cancer cells.

But clinical application of PTT has been difficult because the nanomaterials are costly to produce and toxic.

New research from the Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center in China analyzed Hu-ink and compared it to the nanoparticles popularly used in PTT to see if the plant-based, natural ink could be used as a treatment option.

Hu-ink is made of carbon and has good water stability, and these qualities are similar to the artificial nanoparticles currently used in PTT.

After analyzing Hu-ink for its similarities, several experiments were conducted to test its effectiveness at targeting and treating cancer cells. The researchers found that the ink was extremely effective in PTT.

When the Hu-ink was heated with a laser, the temperature rose by 131 degrees Fahrenheit and killed cancer cells in a laboratory dish. The researchers also tested PTT using Hu-ink on mice and found similar results.

The exciting implications of this new research could create inexpensive and revolutionary treatments, building on PTT, for cancer metastasis.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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