In South Korea, scientists used a magnetic field to get cancer cells to actually self-destruct. The body removes old, defective, and infected cells through the process of programmed cell death (PCD), or apoptosis.
In apoptosis, the rejected cell responds to certain signals sent by the body by fragmenting. Immune cells then consume these fragments. The magnets help trigger apoptosis. When apoptosis fails, however, rejected cells divide uncontrollably, developing tumors.
Magnets Induce Apoptosis
Professor Jinwoo Cheon of Yonsei University in Seoul and a team of scientists conducted experiments on bowel cancer cells using magnetic fields to induce apoptosis.
They attached iron nanoparticles to antibodies, which bind to “receptor” molecules on tumor cells. These molecules cluster when the magnetic field is applied, triggering the “self-destruct” signal and thereby apoptosis.
In the experiment, over half of the bowel cancer cells were destroyed when the signal for apoptopic clustering came into effect. Untreated cells remained unaffected and unharmed.
Big Pharma’s Response?
In a related experiment, the scientists performed the same therapy on zebra fish, which caused them to grow unusual tails. More trials are in the works.