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'Spaser' can detect, kill circulating tumor cells to prevent cancer metastases

A nanolaser known as the spaser can serve as a super-bright, water-soluble, biocompatible probe capable of finding metastasized cancer cells in the blood stream and then killing these cells, according to a new research study. The study found the spaser—which stands for surface plasmon amplification by stimulated emission of radiation—can be used as an optical probe. When released into the body (possibly through an injection or drinking a solution), the spaser can find and go after circulating tumor cells (CTCs), stick to them and destroy these cells by breaking them apart to prevent cancer metastases. The spaser absorbs laser light, heats up, causes shock waves in the cell and destroys the cell membrane. This is the first method to reliably detect and destroy CTCs, and it does so without killing or damaging healthy cells, one researcher said.

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