Scottish scientists propose cancer-killing atomic laser
Scientists in Scotland have announced the launch of a project aimed at developing a laser capable of destroying cancer cells using nuclear energy. With physicists at Strathclyde University leading the work, the team is optimistic that such technology could allow thousands of people with cancer to benefit from the latest innovations in medical care. While some hospitals across the UK currently make use of machines called cyclotrons to give their patients proton treatments, at present, the set-up costs of such equipment can be prohibitively high. However, Professor Ken Ledingham, an expert in laser physics at Strathclyde, has stated that his team will be working to produce smaller and more cost-effective machines, thereby allowing a greater number of cancer patients to be treated with this method. Proton therapy allows energy to be released in a short, concentrated burst, with the protons passing through skin and tissue before releasing their energy to kill the cancer cells. With conventional radiotherapy exposing organs and surrounding tissue to potentially damaging x-rays, the new technology will minimise the added risk to patients and allow doctors to target tumours in problematic places, including near the spinal cord and behind the eye.
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