updated - November 15, 2019 Friday EST
There’s more purpose to diamonds than we think.
A new study conducted by a group of physicists from the University of Sydney suggests that synthetic diamonds are effective at detecting early-stage cancerous tumors through magnetic resonance imaging, according to the news outlet University Herald.
The study, which was published in Nature Communications on Friday, explores diamonds’ ability to light up cancer cells that are usually undetectable, according to The Daily Beast. The experiments were reportedly focused on nano-diamonds, 4-5 nanometer diamonds found inside meteorites.
“We knew nano-diamonds were of interest for delivering drugs during chemotherapy because they are largely non-toxic and non-reactive,” stated University of Sydney physics professor David Reilly.
“We thought we could build on these non-toxic properties realizing that diamonds have magnetic characteristics enabling them to act as beacons in MRIs. We effectively turned a pharmaceutical problem into a physics problem."
For the study, researchers reportedly had to “hyperpolarize” the diamonds, which is described as a “process of aligning atoms inside a diamond so they create a signal detectable by an MRI scanner.” The hyperpolarized nano-diamonds were reportedly then attached to specific cancer-fighting molecular so they could be tracked throughout the body.
The study reportedly showed that wherever the cancer cells traveled in the body, the cancer-fighting molecules were traveling too.
“This is a great example of how quantum physics research tackles real-world problems,” said Reilly.
“In this case opening the way for us to image and target cancers long before they become life-threatening.”
Diamonds have been previously explored in the cancer world. Back in 2011, a study in Science Translational Medicine reportedly found that attaching diamonds to chemotherapy drugs increased the effectiveness of the drug.
The diamonds reportedly helped in effectively shrinking tumors in mice.
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