Researchers develop rice-sized ‘seed’ that destroys deadly brain tumors with the help of MRI

A magnetic metal “seed,” no larger than a grain of rice and developed by scientists at University College London (UCL), has the ability to rapidly kill cancer cells and destroy deadly tumors within 10 minutes, the Telegraph reported this week.

“This is life-changing,” Mark Lythgoe, a professor of imaging at UCL, said at the Cheltenham Science Festival, where his team launched the device. “The aim is to turn every MRI scanner in the world into a therapeutic device.”

Right now, Lythgoe said, MRIs “just take pictures.” The UCL researchers, however, found another use for the scanners, employing them as vessels to heat up the small metal devices to a point where they can kill cancer cells. The seeds are injected into patients’ bloodstreams, Lythgoe explained, and can be directed to the site of a tumor, where the heating process begins.

“We can guide it with real precision, avoiding any areas that we don’t want to go to, like the sensory motor-cortex in the brain—the area with memories,” he said. “Once it’s in there, we’re able to fire in a simple radio wave and these seeds heat up remarkably well and kill all the cells around it.”

Lythgoe said his team is aiming to apply the new tech to human patients within two years—initial testing was successful in swine models—and that they believe it’ll eventually be automatic. Within five years, the researchers said, the device will hopefully be available for use across a range of cancers.

Read the Telegraph’s full report below: