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New filtration system to help capture cancer cells

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US are developing a new filtration system which uses magnetic nanoparticles to capture cancer cells.

In this procedure, fluids are removed from the patient’s abdomen and are mixed with the magnetic nanoparticles, which would attach onto cancer cells.

Following this, both the magnetic nanoparticles and cancer cells are removed using magnetic filters before the fluids are returned to the patient’s body.

In a study involving mice with free-floating ovarian cancer cells, mice treated with an early prototype of the system survived three times longer than the untreated ones.

According to researchers, the new filtration system can slow tumour progression, improve the effectiveness of other cancer treatments and improve the lifespan of cancer patients.

Study researcher Ken Scarberry said the new device is akin to hemofiltration or peritoneal dialysis in which the patient could come into a clinic and be hooked up to the device a couple of times a week.

"The treatment is not heavily invasive, so it could be repeated often," Scarberry said.

The researchers plan to develop a prototype of the circulation and filtration device ready for testing within three years.