Electromagnetic fields might help prevent some breast cancers from spreading to other parts of the body, new research has found.
The study showed that low intensity electromagnetic fields hindered the mobility of specific breast cancer cells by preventing the formation of long, thin extensions at the edge of a migrating cancer cell. The study showed that low intensity electromagnetic fields hindered the mobility of specific breast cancer cells by preventing the formation of long, thin extensions at the edge of a migrating cancer cell. The research was done on cells in a lab, and the concept hasn’t yet been tested in animals or humans. The research team, which included engineers and cancer biologists, found that cancer cells appeared to sense both the presence of the electromagnetic fields, and also the direction from which the fields were coming.
Cancer, by nature, is a destructive force. Sometimes, it spreads to a distant body part. While some cancer cells die during this process, others might go on to create additional tumors. The majority of treatments are ineffective at curing metastatic cancer, so it is vital to find ways to stop the cancer cells from spreading. Researchers believe electromagnetic fields can help. While this has been a point of interest for years, it is only recently that experts have begun to unravel the mechanism.
A new technique for resistant cells
Certain cell types that would typically spread by forming “long, thin extensions at the edge” were unable to do so when hit by a low intensity electromagnetic field. On further inspection, the researchers found that these cells seemed to recognize the existence of the electromagnetic energy, as well as the direction it came from. More significantly, the team found that metastatic triple-negative breast cancer cells, which are the most challenging cells to treat, were the most responsive to electromagnetic fields.
Metastatic triple-negative cancer cells are different from other cancer cells. They do not have estrogen or progesterone receptors or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 genes. Most cancer treatments work by blocking one or all of these receptors. When a cancer cell does not have any of these receptors, hormone therapies are ineffective. When a person has triple-negative cancer, doctors typically use other treatments, such as chemotherapy.
In addition to finding a possible way to stop the spread of triple-negative cells, the team established that using electromagnetic energy in combination with specific drug therapies — particularly those that target cell growth signals carried by the AKT protein — could have a more significant impact.