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Researchers Study New Radiation Therapy for Cancer Employing Resonant Nano-Plasma Theranostics

Ohio State University astronomers together with radiation oncologists and medical physicists are involved in developing a new radiation therapy that will be effective on tumor tissues, causing less damage to normal tissues.

A study on emission and absorption of radiation by chemical elements inside stars and surrounding black holes led to a discovery that when heavy metals like iron are exposed to X-rays at specific intensity, they emit electrons having less energy. This finding enables doctors to completely remove tumors with implants produced from some heavy metals by exposing healthy tissue to a negligible amount of radiation than is actually possible. Such implants can favor medical diagnostic imaging.

At the international symposium on molecular spectroscopy, Sultana Nahar, senior research scientist of Ohio State University has demonstrated the team’s computer simulations of platinum and gold metals and a sample device design that produces X-rays at certain frequencies.

Their simulations explain that when a small quantity of X-rays at narrow frequencies, nearly one-tenth of the broad spectrum of X-ray radiation frequencies, struck a platinum or gold atom, a group of more than 20 low-energy electrons were produced.

Nahar believes that nanoparticles implanted in tumors have the ability to absorb X-rays effectively at specific frequencies, which results in electron emission that destroys tumor cells.

Professor of astronomy, Ohio State University, Anil Pradhan together with Nahar found that at specific X-ray frequencies, the heavy metal electrons vibrate and get separated from their orbits surrounding the nucleus, producing an electrically charged plasma or gas in the region of the atoms at a nanometer range. They named their medical concept Resonant Nano-Plasma Theranostics (RNPT), theranostics indicates a merger of therapy and diagnostics.

When an electron orbiting near the nucleus of the atom gets lost, another electron from far away orbit gets shifted to its place, releasing energy potential enough to knock out a second electron. This is known as Auger effect. This process can also emit photons or light particles at key frequencies or energies, the most important among them are K-alpha X-rays.

The astronomers believe that K-alpha X-ray frequencies knock out nearby electrons of heavy metal (platinum) atoms, resulting in far away electrons to occupy those places and several other electrons are removed. The kicked off electrons are of low-energy but large numbered and can effectively bombard close-in tumor cells and destroy their DNA.

Therapeutic X-ray machines such as CT scanners employ RNPT that uses only K-alpha X-rays thereby minimising normal tissues exposure to radiation. Astronomers together with Yu, developed RNPT while studying the abundance of different chemical elements inside stars and created a new territory for cancer therapy.

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