Science 3 min read

Electromagnetic Fields May Hinder Spread of Breast Cancer Cells

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

New research suggests that electromagnetic field might help hinder the mobility of breast cancer cells.

The researchers noted that low-intensity electromagnetic fields prevent the formation of long, thin extensions found at the edge of migrating cancer cells. As a result, it could prevent the spread of specific breast cancer cells to other parts of the body.

Cancer cells are so devastating because they can reproduce rapidly and spread to other parts of the body. This prompted the researchers at Ohio State University to examine further and understand what makes them harmful.

In a statement, lead author of the studying and assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at The Ohio State University, Jonathan Song, said:

“One very destructive thing these cells do is migrate to distant areas of the body. And what we learned here is that it seems by treating them with a certain class of electric field we are altering their potential to spread somehow.”

The Ohio State University researchers discovered that cancer cells could sense the presence of electromagnetic fields, including the direction from which the fields were coming.

So, the team decided to study these effects.

Stopping Spread of Breast Cancer Cells

First, the researchers built a Helmholz coil, an instrument they used to apply uniform electromagnetic energy to breast cancer cells. Then, they developed an apparatus for the continuous tracking of migrating cancer cells under the microscope.

With these apparatus, the scientists can recreate and mimic what happens in the body, but in a controlled environment where observation and tests are possible.

The research goal was simple: to see if the cells responded to the energy and how it does it.

The researchers also wanted to understand the role electromagnetic fields could play in future cancer treatments.

The findings showed that metastatic triple-negative breast cancer cells were the most sensitive to electromagnetic fields. These are cells that usually don’t respond to treatments and target a gene commonly expressed in breast cancer cells or hormonal therapy.

The study also revealed that specific drug therapies could enhance the ability of the electromagnetic fields to hinder the spread of the cancer cell. This is especially true for drugs designed to target a pathway for cancer called AKT.

Song, who is also a member of the molecular biology and cancer genetics program at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center noted:

“But what we showed, biologically, is that these cancer cells are becoming profoundly less metastatic, which is a very important finding,”

The research took place in the laboratory with models mimicking the environment in which breast cancer cells are formed. That means further research is required to validate the consequence of these findings.

Read More: New Study Suggests Chemotherapy not Needed to Treat Breast Cancer

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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