Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I'll Have Some Diamonds With My Chemotherapy

The development of chemotherapy has been a revelation since cancer has been a diagnosis, being successful as treatment for a majority of cancers. However, some cancers have a resistance to drugs and do not respond to treatments like chemotherapy. A new method of attacking the drug resistant tumors is by adding nanodiamonds to the chemotherapy.

Dean Ho is a biomedical engineer at Northwestern who has recently been adding flakes of diamonds to chemotherapy and administering to mice with drug resistance cancers. Since diamonds are only carbon, it is nontoxic and seemingly makes the drug less toxic to the host. The results thus far have shown that the chemotherapy can stay in the system up to ten times longer. The importance of this is that the drugs have more time to act upon the tumor, which seems to be related as tumor sizes have significantly decreased.

These trials are still in early development, but with such promising results Ho is planning to continue in larger animals such as rabbits. A concern is that there may not be an advantage over other drug carriers such as gold or silica that are currently being tested as well. Perhaps with more testing of natural, unlikely substances, there is potential for more effective drug carriers.

Posted by Liz Stangle (3)


  1. really, interesting.. but what about the cost of this? has there been any developments on that? for example are there any talks about how much this would cost for a patient with cancer. the problem i can see now is that it might be really costly. And that is just the thing about these new medical advancements. what if a cancer patient can't afford it? what happens then.

    Cleopatra Duque

  2. This is really good news. I never knew that "drug carriers" such as the nanaodiamonds or gold could be used to allow the chemotherapy to stay in the system longer. Do you know if that is the major issue with current chemotherapy methods? Also, do you know what kind of cancer Ho developed in the mice to perform his experiments?

    Kevin McLaughlin

  3. I think innovation in terms of cancer treatments is always a good thing and this is definitely innovative. Like Cleopatra, I am concerned about the cost. Diamonds are expensive and this would make these treatments more costly. Other than that though this seems really promising.

    - Jessica Kusmirek

  4. Liz,

    I have also read about this study. I am very excited and hopeful for it. The results that these diamonds are able to stay in one's system for longer only makes since giving diamonds are carbon isotopes. The same reason also serves as a valid explanation for why diamonds make chemotherapy less harmful to its recipient. It just figures something that, well, cost less than diamonds would not be as successful. It only makes since given the world in which we live, and it honestly reminds me of the South Park episode where, to cure HIV/AIDS, doctors simply inject a patient with liquefied money. Let us just hope these scientists are not using blood diamonds, or should I say conflict diamonds. Yes, I believe that is currently the politically correct term. But I digress, let us just hope this research goes well, for us, our kids and our grandkids.

    Posted by Derek Melzar

  5. I want to know who thought, 'oh yea, add diamonds that'll work.' It is certainly an interesting development in chemotherapy, and as for the cost, I don't think it needs to be as expensive as people may think because these diamonds would not be the naturally found diamonds sold in jewelry stores, but would most likely be sythetic diamonds. I'm interested to see the results of more studies on this.

    posted by Marlena Grasso

  6. This is fascinating. Who would've thought that diamonds could treat cancer. But what in the diamond is doing this? Is it just because it is carbon based, because there are unlimited amounts of other organic compounds, that would seem much more cost effective. But is it just the special properties of diamonds that allows them to use it in chemotherapy?

    David Duong

  7. I had no idea that nanodiamonds or even gold could be used as drug carriers. Like several have posted, the potential price tag to this kind of treatment may be its pitfall. If it does take off, would health insurance providers even back it up? Also, if synthetic diamonds were to be used to replace real diamonds (to reduce the possible cost of this), do you think the cheap forms of carbon found in synthetic diamonds would reduce its effect on making the drug less toxic to the host?

    Posted by: Nelson Milano

  8. The diamonds mentioned here might be more expensive than other materials, but they are nano-diamonds, not gem diamonds. These would look like dust if you got them together and their cost is far less than the people here are worried about. Think about diamond saw blades. Yes, those are coated with diamonds, and do not cost thousands of dollars. These patches would use less diamonds than the blades. As I jewelry professional, I assure you that the cost of current non-diamond therapies are so expensive the use of these diamonds would not be material to the expense of the drugs. The expense of this will be in R&D, not the diamonds.

  9. This is a very intriguing article. I was surprised to understand that they are able to infuse anything with the chemotherapy. Diamonds and their pure carbon form is a brilliant addition because they are non-toxic. But would the diamond effect any other cells? What would the side-effects or physical cost of this treatment be?

    Reed Allen

  10. I understand that the cost of the diamonds may be a serious problem for treatment of cancer. However, as someone mentioned, I assume these diamonds are not flashy, expensive gems that would be used in jewelry. I'm not sure of how the nanodiamonds are created, but I believe the cost would be minimal compared to the actual chemotherapy. As for synthetic diamonds, I would assume there is an advantage to using authentic diamonds as its carbon feature is one of the most beneficial side effects.

  11. They are not actually diamonds they are carbon nanoparticles. They can be created in the lab and purchased. The article refers to them as diamonds because they are carbon compounds.