“Scientists have discovered that the nanomaterial graphene can target and neutralize cancer stem cells and is not toxic to healthy cells, suggesting it may have potential to treat a range of cancers with fewer side-effects than many current treatments.” was the title I read today whilst in a study lesson. I had an extra study period today, due to the fact our Biology teacher was on a trip to Cambridge University, so I got all of my overdue work done then, leaving me with 55 minutes in which to write my blog…I managed to waste the first half an hour being distracted by choral music and mini eggs in my next door room..but I’m here now 😉Graphene!
So, this title immediately caught my eye…I’m not quite sure why, but it seemed an interesting topic to write about, so here goes…if you want to read the article I found, click here . I read that, although we mainly use chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat cancer, these don’t necessarily prevent the cancer from returning. This is because these treatments mainly wipe out the actual cancer cells, but don’t kill the cancer stem cells, which are cells which can turn into cancer cells, forming tumors. The cancer stem cells left, after radiotherapy or chemotherapy, can cause the cancer to spread to other parts of the body (which is called metastasis). Metastasis causes about 90% of the deaths by cancer, so obviously preventing metastasis is a very important part of modern medicine. It is also thought that these cancer stem cells cause drug resistance, which explains why quite often the treatment of cancer is not always effective.
However, new research has shown that graphene, one atom thick carbon flakes, might be the key to killing cancer stem cells. Manchester University studies show that graphene oxide can selectively target cancer stem cells in some cancers, which I thought was pretty cool-how does graphene oxide do that?! Apparently, the graphene oxide stops the cancer stem cells from making tumor-spheres (a small mass of cells), and forces them to differentiate (turn) into noncancer stem cells…like, stem cells which are being researched to stop Parkinson’s and cure paralysis and all sorts of other really cool stuff…I don’t know why, but I just found that really amazing…however, graphene will not be used on patients quite yet, as there is lots more work needed.
Graphene is also being used for many other applications in the medical world, and I find it so interesting how one material can be so influential in a certain field…and especially something like graphene, which you hear about the whole time in chemistry, and I find it very useful to be able to mentally connect materials with uses…seems a bit odd, I know 😛 but I guess that’s just me…well, that’s all for now…I don’t know when I’ll next be able to blog, so until next time…thanks for reading!