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Curing Cancer with Nanotech, Revisited
Jamais Cascio, 5 Aug 05

One of my favorite posts to WorldChanging has to be Curing Cancer, from July, 2004. In brief, Rice University researchers found that flooding a tumor with gold nanospheres then illuminating the tumor with an infrared laser (through the skin, which remains undamaged) would result in the tumor being completely eliminated. Now Stanford University researchers have accomplished a very similar feat, this time using carbon nanotubes rather than gold nanospheres. The principle is the same: inundate the tumor with the material, illuminate the tumor with a low-power laser, cook the tumor into nonexistence without harming nearby healthy tissue.

Although the Rice University work is further along, this is extremely good news, as it is further demonstration of the viability of the laser treatment model. Given the existing caution about carbon nanotubes in biological contexts, and the demonstrated non-toxicity of gold, it's likely that the Rice approach is more likely to see wider use. But if the gold nanosphere technique proves not to work for some reason (or has other barriers to acceptance, such as cost), it's good to know that the carbon nanotube approach could be able to provide equally-powerful results.

Add other breakthrough cancer-fighting techniques, and we may well see the end of cancer as a scourge by the middle of the next decade, if not sooner.

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I think it is appropriate at this time to start a new war on cancer.

It is widely believed that when President Nixon declared war on cancer it was not without benefit but essentially too early.

It is not too early now. A massive influx of money into research could possibly cure cancer, or at least put most cancers in remission, in five years.

It seems to me that the will for such a war is present today because most people are touched personally by cancer either through family members or by having cancer themselves and all people in middle age know that they are playing a lottery with cancer.

A war on cancer would be an excellent way to stimulate the economy in the same way that the computer boom of the 90's stimulated the economy.

A war on cancer would also be an excellent platform for a President to run on in 2008. It would surely attract many votes. ("End the war in Iraq and start the war on cancer!")

Nixon declared war on cancer when there was little chance of finding a cure. Today there is a very big chance of finding a cure within ten years or even five, if we declare war all over again.

Posted by: James Street on 6 Aug 05



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