Scientists at Purdue University have created a model for breast cancer research that they call "breast on-a chip." The tiny piece of technology will allow researchers to test nanomedical applications used to screen and treat breast cancer, according to PhysOrg.com
The scientists took small portions of female breast tissue and created the chip, which mirrors the branching mammary duct system where most tumors begin. Researchers hope to eventually find a way to introduce nanoparticles to a patient's breast tissue that are magnetized. They would in turn use a magnetic field to guide these particles through the duct tissue where they could attach themselves to cancer cells.
"Nanoparticles can be designed to latch on to cancer cells and illuminate them, decreasing the size of a tumor that can be detected through mammography from 5 millimeters to 2 millimeters, which translates into finding the cancer 10 times earlier in its evolution," James Leary, SVM professor of nanomedicine at Purdue University, told the news source.
Leary also spoke to the nanoparticles' ability to deliver anti-cancer agents directly to cancer cells, eliminating the need for standard chemotherapy.
According to BreastCancer.org, there are currently 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States.