Electrically charged particles that trick cancer cells into self-destruction could be used to treat brain tumors, experts hope.
Scientists in Nottingham have discovered a new way of using nanoparticles to induce cell death, scientifically known as apoptosis, in glioblastoma cells – one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer.
The particles were able to specifically target glioblastoma cells, leaving healthy cells unharmed.
Researchers believe this is the first 'quantum therapy', harnessing the potential of quantum mechanics to treat cancer.
They believe their findings will provide a new and effective treatment for brain tumors.
Writing in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, researchers from the University of Nottingham said: "To our knowledge, this is the first successful demonstration of quantum electrical-molecular signaling technology in biology."
Dr Frankie Rawson, who led the study, said: "We refer to [the nanoparticles] as 'bio-nanoantennas' because they convert an electric field into a biological signaling event, which then regulates cell functions such as apoptosis - programmed death of cells
Ku added that: "The team showed that cancer cells undergo an intricate dance of electrons, orchestrated by the fascinating world of quantum biology.
"With the advent of bio-nanoantennas, this vision of real-world quantum therapies comes closer to reality.
"By precisely modifying the biological quantum tunneling of electrons, these smart nanoparticles create a symphony of electrical signals that trigger the natural self-destruction mechanism of cancer cells."
In-demand singer Tom Parker died in March after an 18-month battle with stage four glioblastoma.
He said after his diagnosis that he was 'shocked' by the limited treatment options for GBM and 'massive improvements' were needed.
The cancer, which is diagnosed in around 2,000 people in England and 12,000 Americans a year, is still treated the same way it was in the early 2000s.
Diagnosed patients usually undergo surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible.
This is followed by daily radiation and chemotherapy for about six weeks, after which the drugs are tapered off.
Radiation can be used to destroy other tumor cells and treat those that are not well enough for surgery.
The cancer is one of the most aggressive brain tumors and can double in size in just seven weeks.
By comparison, the fastest-growing lung cancer takes 14 weeks to double. /Daily Mail/