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Cancer Treatment Breakthrough In El Paso

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POSTED: Thursday, October 28, 2010 - 5:00pm

UPDATED: Thursday, October 28, 2010 - 5:15pm

EL PASO - It may be a huge medical break through for cancer treatment, and it's right out of El Paso. A UTEP researcher may have found a solution to prevent some of chemotherapy's nasty side affects.

Dr. Tao Xu, a UTEP researcher and Assistant Professor, says he has come up with a way to deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to tumors in the body. That would prevent the toxic chemical from destroying healthy cells while it travels to the cancer cells. Here's how Xu says it works. The chemo is placed on what's called a solar cell, and injected into a person's body.

"The drugs will follow the circulation system, go everywhere including the tumor part," Xu said.

When the solar cells reach the tumor a light is shined on the body and the solar cells release the drug.

"So we did a lot of experiments that prove we are able to load in the drug effectively, and we can release it when we turn on the light," he said.

To prove his research Dr. Xu purchased a solar cell from Radio Shack for just a few dollars, but in real world it would have to be much smaller, on a micro-level to be injected into the body.

Xu is now working with a researcher from Texas Tech and scientists from Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque to continue the research So how soon until solar cells are used to deliver chemo to cancer patients?

"It's a good question, I think it will take a few years," he said.

Xu says more funding and more research is needed.

"So next step we are going to move to the animals. To the small animals we inject at micro-level solar cells to deliver the drug to the tumor," Xu said.

Although Dr. Xu's medical breakthrough is years away from real-world application, it's already gaining a lot of attention. We're even told the Discovery Channel has taken notice. You can guarantee we'll continue to follow this story.

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