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Jul 09, 2016 10:07 AM EDT

Cancer Therapy Update: MIT Researchers Develop New Microfluidic Device That Effectively Stops Cancer Cell Spreading And Growth

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Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Research Center in Singapore have come up with a new microfluidic device that examines electric fields' effect on cancer cells. The team find out that a range of low-intensity, middle-frequency electric fields can effectively stop breast and lung cancer cells' growth and spread without side-effect effect on nearby healthy cells.

Thus microfluidic device is designed to aid scientists trim down safe ranges of electric fields to noninvasively treat breast, lung, and other forms of cancer. It is roughly the size of a US dollar coin. The results are now published online in Scientific Reports.

The paper was co-authored by the following experts: MIT Mechanical and Biological Engineering Professors Roger Kamm, the Cecil and Ida Green; Research Scientists Giulia Adriani and Andrea Pavesi;  Post-Doctorate Majid Ebrahimi Warkiani; and Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) Student Andy Tay. Senior Research Officer Wei Hseun Yeap and Singapore Immunology Network Associate Professor Siew Cheng Wong have also contributed to the report, MIT News wrote.

In the past decade, various scientists have embarked on experiments to test electric fields in treating malignant cells as an alternative cancer treatment - Tumor Treating Field (TTF). This therapy branches from the contact between important cells in tumors with an external electric field.

Generally, this electric field is a field of forces that responds to objects with an electric charge. Thus, an electric field can likewise impact the alignment of polar molecules in tumor cells. These molecules are usually crucial for cell division and when it goes overdrive could lead to tumor growth.

Chwee Teck Lim, a professor of biomedical engineering at the National University of Singapore, who did not partake in the study, said that the device may eventually be useful in identifying the most effective electric field to treat cancer cells acquired directly from a patient, says

This research was held, partly, by the National Research Foundation of Singapore through the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology BioSystems and Micromechanics interdisciplinary research group. You can read more about the research at MIT News.

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