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Step forward in bone cancer treatment

Researches at Aston University have developed a series of novel bioactive materials which show great potential for treating bone cancer. They have developed a bioactive glass which is soluble and slowly biodegrades inside the body releasing key elements. The glass contains large quantities of calcium and phosphorous, the main building blocks of bone, which, when slowly released inside the body, precipitate and form new bone mineral. In addition small quantities of gallium oxide are encapsulated within the material. When the glass dissolves and releases this gallium it is preferentially attracted to bone cancer cells whilst avoiding normal healthy ones.

"The results are highly promising with over 50 per cent of bone cancer cells dying within just three days without showing any toxicity to normal cells," says Dr Richard Martin, Reader in Material Physics at Aston. "Bone growth was clearly evident on the glass surface after just a few days. The materials developed show great potential for treating bone cancer and has been accepted for publication in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering."

Aston has filed a patent to protect the intellectual property and the team are now trying to raise funds through research grants, or identify companies willing to invest in this project.

Bone cancer cells after expose to the bioactive glasses.
Figure 1. Live (green) / dead (red) staining of Saos-2 (bone cancer) cells after expose to the bioactive glasses.
Normal healthy bone cells after exposure to the bioactive glasses.
Figure 2. Live (green) / dead (red) staining of normal healthy osteoblasts (bone) cells after exposure to the bioactive glasses.