Hamburg hospital develops treatment to ‘fish out’ cancer cells

Researchers at the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) won a national contest on Thursday to further develop their so-called “nano-fishing” cancer treatment, a method which aims to pluck cancer cells from a patient’s bloodstream.

Hamburg hospital develops treatment to 'fish out' cancer cells
Photo: DPA

The €1.5-million Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) award for innovation in medical techniques will go to further testing of the cancer treatment, a university spokesperson said.

Single cancer cells are released from tumours into the bloodstream where they spread into the body and build more tumours – a deadly cycle that could be hindered if these cells can be detected and used to create a targeted treatment, the spokesperson explained.

Similar techniques have been costly and time-intensive, but the new system is simple, accurate and affordable, according to the UKE.

The technique involves using tiny “tentacles” about 50 times thinner than a human hair that act as angling devices to “fish out” specific cells. Experts believe the new technology will help improve tumour diagnosis in addition to enhanced monitoring of infection stages.

The UKE is working closely with nano-biotechnicians in Düsseldorf, and industrial partners in Elmshorn and Wiesbaum.

The prize was one among 11 winners to be chosen by the BMBF’s international jury of experts.

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