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Photo: Ewa Rej via University of Sydney

Diamonds To Detect Cancerous Cells

On Friday, a new study was published in Nature Communications. The study looked at synthetic nano diamonds as an effective cancer detecting material.

The study was conducted by physics professor, David Reilly, and a group of doctors at the University of Sydney. They looked at magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which allows the diamonds to light up cancerous tumors that would otherwise be left undetected.

Their work was inspired by a previous study conducted by the Northwestern University which showed how attaching diamonds to chemotherapy medication could actually improve the effectiveness of the drugs. The non-toxic nano diamonds size made them impervious to the body’s attacks. This study was published in Science Translational Medicine.

Reilly dug deeper into the health benefits of the beautiful gems. He said:

“We knew nano-diamonds were of interest for delivering drugs during chemotherapy because they are largely non-toxic and non-reactive. 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.”

The researchers created hyperpolarised diamonds by aligning the atoms inside the diamond which would create a signal recognizable by an MRI scanner. The nano diamonds attached to cancer fighting molecules in the body and created a visible roadmap of where the cancer cells are throughout the body.

Ewa Rej, the lead author of the study, said:

“By attaching hyperpolarised diamonds to molecules targeting cancers the technique can allow tracking of the molecules’ movement in the body.”

The work done here by the researches shows how physics can make big changes in the world. Reilly said:

“This is a great example of how quantum physics research tackles real-world problems. In this case opening the way for us to image and target cancers long before they become life-threatening.”

Next on the agenda is joining up with medical researchers to test the process on animals with cancerous tumors.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and this new study shows that diamonds are also cancer’s worst enemy.  

About Krystal Tucker

Krystal Tucker
Krystal is a 25 year old writer. She's been a passionate hobbyist for the last few years dabbling in painting, poetry, sculpting, wood work, makeup, jewelry and recently, gardening. When she isn't busy creating, she enjoys her time watching movies and hiking with her husband and two dogs. Poke around, get hooked and come back to read more!! Contact Krystal: