Graphene was made in a lab in 2003, but by 2014, it reportedly reached $9 million in sales predominately in electronics, battery energy and semiconductors. Graphene is 100 times stronger than steel by weight and efficiently conducts heat and electricity. It’s a new material that can store bits of small energy or make battery terminals more efficient.
Scientists at the University of Manchester, England decided to use graphene in a completely different way: to neutralize cancer stem cells (CSC) and not harm other cells.
The scientists used a modified version of graphene oxide flakes on six kinds of cancer cells where it hurts cancers the most, in the stem cells. They discovered that it acts as an anti-cancer agent that selectively targets stem cells. With cancer, stem cells are the origin for tumors, but they also withstand radiation, chemotherapy and surgery and typically are known to re-seed a tumor, even when it looks like it has been eradicated.
From the lab experiments, the scientists report the graphene oxide flakes inhibit the key signaling pathways active in the CSCs.
“Cancer stem cells differentiate to form a small mass of cells known as a tumour-sphere. We saw that the graphene oxide flakes prevented CSCs from forming these, and instead forced them to differentiate into non-cancer stem-cells,” said Dr. Aravind Vijayaraghavan, University of Manchester.
Researchers want to use the graphene oxide as a type of washing solution and after surgery, pump it into cancer area to destroy any stem cell survivors, so there is no chance of it returning or re-seeding.
According to the results of the study, the results showed that graphene oxide had a non toxic effect on the cells which suggests the treatment could have fewer side-effects as an anti-cancer therapy. The results of the study are found in the current issue of Oncotarget.