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Anti-Matter's Potential in Treating Cancer

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the healthy-physics dept.

Biotech 216

eldavojohn writes "The BBC is taking a look at how atomic physicists are developing cancer treatments. A step past radiotherapy, the CERN institute is publishing interesting results: 'Cancer cells were successfully targeted with anti-matter subatomic particles, causing intense biological damage leading to cell death.' The press release from last year is finally sparking interest in the medical community."

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216 comments

Ah yes.. (5, Funny)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284860)

Because setting off miniature broad-spectrum emp blasts inside your body it a GOOD thing.

Re:Ah yes.. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18284998)

It is if you're a robot who wants to get high. Think about it. It would probably work.

Re:Ah yes.. (4, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285006)

WEll, they originally thought it would be a huge money-maker by using antimatter to clean teeth - eveyone wants a big white smile. However, trials proved that "tooth is stronger than fiction."

Re:Ah yes.. (4, Funny)

captnitro (160231) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285364)

You mean, tooth is stronger than fission.

So how do we administer it? (2, Funny)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285200)

Antimatter sucks up anything it touches.

Doctor: "Nurse, please fix me up a syringe full of antimatter!"

Nurse: "Sure thing doc." Goes into store room. Clattering sound...

Doctor: "Now where the hell did she go!"

Re:So how do we administer it? (4, Insightful)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285878)

I believe what you're thinking about black holes Antimatter annihilates anything it touches along with itself in a 1:1 ratio releasing E=MC^2 amount of energy. PS I guess that makes using antimatter to remove a 1 lb tumor the equivalent of setting off a nuke then?

Re:Ah yes.. (3, Insightful)

profplump (309017) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285210)

As opposed to cancer?

Or the current radition and chemical treatments?

Re:Ah yes.. (4, Informative)

speleo (61031) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285476)

Because setting off miniature broad-spectrum emp blasts inside your body it a GOOD thing.
It is. Already being done: Positron emission tomography [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Ah yes.. (4, Funny)

jesdynf (42915) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285508)

Because setting off miniature broad-spectrum emp blasts inside your body it a GOOD thing.

Yeah, having to reboot all your nanobots is so much worse than dying of cancer. The terrible spectre of EMP is a little less scary when you're already gonna die.

While I'm on the subject, though, cut them some slack. They're using antimatter. Antimatter! As medicine. Antimatter as medicine! This is the most awesome thing I've read this year. I thought nitroglycerin was cool, but this -- what's next? Using Great Old Ones to soothe colicky babies?

brilliant (4, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284870)

There are a lot of things that kill cancer cells. It's finding the things that kill exclusively cancer cells that's the hard part.

Re:brilliant (2, Funny)

MisterCookie (991581) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284900)

You mean my acid bath treatment isn't a good idea?

Re:brilliant (4, Informative)

zebadee (551743) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284942)

Thats kind of the purpose of the article, if you read it. They compare using charged particle beams to traditional radiotherapy treatment and comment that using particle beams allows the raditation to be better focused on the tumour (in this case a spinal tumour), leading to less death of surrounding tissue.

Re:brilliant (4, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286246)

What's wrong with a gamma knife? (Uses eight sources, none of which are exceptionally dangerous in themselves, such that the area of overlap is totally lethal.)

For that matter, since cancer cells tend to generate heat, the cancerous region should be nearer the point of cell death than non-cancerous tissue. Use microwaves to raise the water temperature such that healthy cells will still be below the threshold but cancer cells are cooked.

Alternatively, cancer cells must pull in far more amino acids than healthy cells simply to duplicate so rapidly. Synthesize some amino acids that use an isotope you know the frequency for a-la x-ray fluorescence. Beam in some x-rays at the required frequency. The isotope will absorb them and emit electrons. Because the cancerous cells have more of the isotope, they will have more electrons blasting around. I would have thought you could do some really nasty things to the cancer before the healthy cells even noticed the extra charge on their bill.

Reo-virus may kill 2/3 of all cancers. (4, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286004)

It's finding the things that kill exclusively cancer cells that's the hard part.

You mean like this...

Reo-virus [abheritage.ca] , or respiratory enteric orphan virus, is naturally occurring and believed to cause mild infections of the upper respiratory and gastro-intestinal tract in humans. However, in testing mice with implanted human cancer tumours, Lee and his team of researchers were able to show that reo-virus also has the ability to selectively kill a wide variety of cancer cells.

...Lee's findings have indicated that approximately two thirds of cancers cells bear an active Ras pathway and the remaining cells can be treated with a particular chemical to deactivate their anti-bodies against viruses.

If only treatments like these were ready in 2005... My wife of 20 years was diagnosed with a brain tumor (GBM) Thanksgiving 2005 and died in January 13, 2006. Nothing is special any more...

Newfangled, downtown fancy pants hightech. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18284874)


Sounds too newfangled and high tech for me.

I'd prefer it if they used they did what they did back in my great-great-grandfather's time: the Shotgun Method
The doctor/vet/farmboy would place the muzzle of the shotgun to the tumour and blast it out. Sure, there's some peripheral damage and blood loss but it's tried and true. Sucks if you use it to treat testicular cancer, but a light 410 load of birdshot, some frozen peas and you'd be back on your feet in 8 months.

But my complete understanding of physics says... (3, Funny)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284878)

That you need Dilithium crystals and a Scottish engineer to make it work effectively.
(either that or you need to reverse the polarity of something or other and channel the output through the main sensor grid) ...or am I mixing up TV with reality again? :-)

TDz.

Re:But my complete understanding of physics says.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18284990)

Thats the deflector array!

Re:But my complete understanding of physics says.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285862)

Comment was funny untill "...or am I mixing up TV with reality again? :-)"

I call see the ads now (2, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284880)

Warp speed cancer treatment!

Re:I call see the ads now (1)

countach (534280) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285376)

In other news, and explosion centred on London hospital with the energy of a thousand suns obliterated central London yesterday.....

What about this? (0)

Manchot (847225) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284888)

Is anyone else turned off by the idea of putting material in your body that will literally annihilate parts of you? Oh well, I guess it can't be any worse than injecting you with lethal poisons and hoping that the cancer absorbs most of it. :)

Re:What about this? (2, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284918)


Is anyone else turned off by the idea of putting material in your body that will literally annihilate parts of you?

Like what booze is doing to my liver?

Re:What about this? (2, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285028)

People already get bombarded by radiation to kill tumor cells -- this isn't that much different, except that the damage to the tumor is more direct and probably at a higher concentration than with ordinary bursts of radiation. You get the twin effect of the anti-particles annihilating their particle counterparts and the secondary radiation (mainly gamma) given off by that annihilation.

Re:What about this? (2, Insightful)

yotto (590067) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285194)

Personally, I'd be more turned off by the idea of a growth of runaway cells taking over my body and killing me. If I had it, I'd happily let them dump a bit of antimatter in me, rather than DIE.

Re:What about this? (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285918)

But they're parts of you that have already turned traitor and are trying to kill you. So trust me, you won't feel too guilty about it. If nothing else, it'll serve as a stern warning to all those other cells that they damn well better keep their DNA in line.

Ready all weapons... (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284894)

Fire the micro-Photon torpedos!

Okay n00b question (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284912)

Can someone please explain what Anti-matter actually is? Is it matter just misnamed and slightly different? Is it the absence of matter?

Could I hold it?

How do you make it?

Re:Okay n00b question (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284972)

Antimatter is... just as it sounds. The opposite of matter.

Click here for more info [wikipedia.org]

Re:Okay n00b question (4, Informative)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285162)

Antimatter is... just as it sounds. The opposite of matter.

"Matter" in ordinary parlance has various important properties: solidity, resistance to motion (otherwise known as mass) and so on.

Anti-matter has every single one of these properties, so it is not particularly helpful to say it is "the opposite of matter" because it is not.

Anti-matter is simply matter that consists of anti-particles, as correctly indicated by the article you link. Anti-particles are just like ordinary particles except that they have the opposite charge, parity or magnetic moment (in the case of neutrons). This minor change results in a fairly large cross-section for mutual annihilation when an anti-particle scatters off of its corresponding particle.

Re:Okay n00b question (-1, Redundant)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285214)

Wrong.

Taken from the wikipedia link:

In particle physics, antimatter extends the concept of the antiparticle to matter, whereby a particle of antimatter is composed of antiparticles in the same way that normal matter is. For example an antielectron (positron) and an antiproton could form an antihydrogen atom in the same way that an electron and a proton form a normal matter hydrogen atom. Furthermore, mixing of matter and antimatter would lead to the annihilation of both in the same way that mixing of antiparticles and particles does, thus giving rise to high-energy photons (gamma rays) or other particle-antiparticle pairs.

Re:Okay n00b question (4, Informative)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285340)

Wrong.

No, that's what he said.

Your failure to grasp his words does not invalidate them, it merely illuminates your own poor understanding of the topic.

Let's put it another way: if there was an anti-sun with an anti-solar system, exactly like Earth but with every particle the inverse of our Earth, they would be exactly the same. (Even when they eventually met and obliterated each other -- matter blows up antimatter just as well as antimatter blows up matter.)

Re:Okay n00b question (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285346)

So if you were to eat pasta after eating antipasto, would they annihilate one another?
*me ducks* ;)

Re:Okay n00b question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285380)

Your article doesn't refute anything that was stated by the person to whom you're responding.

You must have either a weak grasp of physics or a problem with properly using a web browser.

Re:Okay n00b question (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285000)


Hey, this is great timing! I just found this website called Google [google.com] . It looks like some sort of funky search thing that will tell you which tube of teh intarweb to go down for the information you want.

Re:Okay n00b question (1)

gnool (1005253) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285202)

There's no harm in being friendly and helpful ;-)

Re:Okay n00b question (4, Informative)

HBI (604924) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285002)

A complete set of mirror image subatomic particles. The antimatter analogue to the electron is the positron, etc.

No you can't hold it. It annihilates matter when it comes into contact with it, releasing a burst of energy.

Theoretically the Big Bang created equal amounts of matter and antimatter, but we're wondering where the antimatter is...maybe whole galaxies are composed of it? There's no way to tell from the light - photons are the same whether generated by matter or antimatter.

Short of that, small amounts are created in particle accelerators and in the upper atmosphere, I believe.

As usual, Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] is helpful.

Re:Okay n00b question (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285778)

I would imagine that the anti-matter ended up roughly on the other side of the universe as us. Imagine two equally sized spheres of matter and anti-matter. If they come in contact, there will be a massive explosion. But that obviously doesn't mean that all the matter and anti-matter were annihilated. The explosion would work to move the matter and anti-matter apart.

Re:Okay n00b question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285832)

There is more matter than anti matter in the universe because certain decays of certain particles have a slight perference to matter. This principle is being studied at accelerators in the USA (SLAC) and Japan (KEK) among others. These two facilities have B factories, which are accelerators that make billions of B mesons and measure the amount of asymmetry between B and anti-B decays which occur from them. For more info checkout: http://www-public.slac.stanford.edu/babar/ [stanford.edu]

Anti-matter in motion (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286056)

It annihilates matter when it comes into contact with it, releasing a burst of energy.

My understanding [which I admit is limited and may actually be completely lacking :-)] is that the anti-matter particles annihilate contacting matter when at (or close to) rest.

The idea for use in medical treatment is to propel anti-matter at such velocity so as to pass harmlessly through the body and to come to rest within the tumor, thus annihilating matter at that point.

Was I even close? (Be nice, I tried.)

Re:Okay n00b question (4, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285158)

Can someone please explain what Anti-matter actually is?

It is kind of like negative Mod points. They anialate your Karma.
       

Re:Okay n00b question (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285618)

It is kind of like negative Mod points. They anialate your Karma.

And apparently, your spelling too! =)

A little pricey (1)

thyarcher (1036802) | more than 7 years ago | (#18284994)

Unfortunately, Anti-matter is currently the most expensive substance on the planet. At best it can be manufactured for $25 Billion per gram. I suggest they spend their time on a more practical solution to the cancer problem.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antimatter_weapon [wikipedia.org]
They might as well say aether can also cure cancer. It would probably be cheaper to discover/create.

Perfect! (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285074)

exactly what big pharma needs to increase their already record profits!

at 45 billion per pill this cancer "cure" will be flying off the shelves!

25 Billion per gram = 25 bucks per nanogram (2, Interesting)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285094)

Well, considering that the current crop of particle-beam based cancer treatments being developed is using a stream of protons. If the kinetic impact of high-speed protons is a high enough energy level, than a stream of positrons would do the trick nicely... and considering that PET [wikipedia.org] is already used in medicine, I doubt the increase in the amount of positrons needed would be (that big of a) cost factor. (At least not compared to the cost of the actual trials.)

Re:25 Billion per gram = 25 bucks per nanogram (1)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285748)

If the kinetic impact of high-speed protons is a high enough energy level, than a stream of positrons would do the trick nicely
What ever gave you that idea? A positron has the same charge as a proton, but much smaller and only 1/1836 the mass of the proton. It would be quite a challenge to get the same kinetic energy from positrons.

and considering that PET is already used in medicine, I doubt the increase in the amount of positrons needed would be (that big of a) cost factor
The positrons in PET come from decay of a radioisotope. Generating them in sufficient quantity to be a suitable alternative to a proton or antiproton beam would require a much different production method.

Re:25 Billion per gram = 25 bucks per nanogram (2, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286118)

In PET you don't inject positrons. It's positron EMISSION tomography. You inject a substance that, when it decays, emits positrons, then they quickly run into an electron and annihilate, producing two gamma rays, which you detect.

These story is about using anti-protons (very different than positrons) and they're using a beam (well, more than one beam for an actual treatment) of reasonably slow ones. As stated in the article, there are really only a couple of places in the world that can produce such a beam and the equipment to do it is very large.

In contrast, for PET you just need a cyclotron (costs a few million) to make the radio pharmaceuticals for you. My hospital is installing one. But they're not going to be making anti-proton beams any time soon.

Re:A little pricey (1)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285186)

It doesn't matter that it costs $25 billion per gram, since the quantities required for treatment are in the nanograms.

A milligram of antimatter would "cure" everyone in the whole city, of whatever ails them.

Re:A little pricey (1)

thyarcher (1036802) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285400)

Unfortunately, the $25B/gram is an ideal price. With the actual production estimates at around 30 nanograms per year by 2020, the best case scenario is a couple hundred treatments by the end of the century. Not too bad, I suppose, for budding new technology, but there are a lot of other development breakthroughs that need to be made before this is even a remote treatment option for the next couple generations. Hopefully our tech accelerates fast enough that next generation's teens are building anti-matter containment chambers for science fairs, but I'm guessing that the technology entrance is a little higher than the boyscout breeder reactors of the present.

Re:A little pricey (2, Insightful)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285698)

That's for production and storage. Production and immediate use (irradiating an object such as a patient) doesn't involve that much operational expense. The big expense is the capital equipment outlay, which has to be amortized over a very large number of treatments.

Re:A little pricey (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285192)

Unfortunately, Anti-matter is currently the most expensive substance on the planet. At best it can be manufactured for $25 Billion per gram.

Oh shit! Something yet more expensive for chicks to expect in trinkets. Fsck the Joneses', she only gits diamonds.

           

Re:A little pricey (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285372)

Yes, however were you to actually use a gram of antimatter to treat a patient you will generate a 42.8 kiloton blast. While this would be certain of destroying all the cancer cells the side effects of this treatment would be a little severe!

Close enough (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285676)

Kilotonnes of TNT, to be precise.

e = mc^2, m = 2g (it reacts to an equal amount of matter), c=299792458 m/s
e = 179751035747363.528 kg*m^2/s^2 = 179.751 TJ
1 kT TNT = 4.184 TJ

179.751 / 4.184 = 42.96 littul kittons.

For comparison, Little Boy, which was dropped over Hiroshima was around 11-13 kT TNT equivalent. Yes, antimatter is potent stuff, but for effect of small doses, I'd rather go with tryptamines myself.

Regards,
--
*Art

Re:A little pricey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285438)

Source: Your link to Wikipedia

"Even if it were possible to convert energy directly into particle/antiparticle pairs without any loss, a large-scale power plant generating 2000 MWe would take 25 hours to produce just one gram of antimatter. Given the average price of electric power around $50 per megawatt hour, this puts a lower limit on the cost of antimatter at $2.5 million per gram."

nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285024)

Doctor: "ok, just stand right there and hold still for a minute while i fire up the particle accelerator."

Overdosing Kills (3, Funny)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285036)

Time of Death: 2:30pm

Cause: Drug overdose

Location: A little bit over here,little bit over there, and significant portions missing.

Thought Cancer was already Cured (1)

reezle (239894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285088)

Didn't they already cure cancer with dichloroacetate? http://www.wanderings.net/notebook/Main/CheapSafeD rugKillsMostCancers/ [wanderings.net]
They are going a long ways out of their way to find patentable treatments that are more profitable.

Re:Thought Cancer was already Cured (1)

DietFluffy (150048) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285182)

There hasn't been any clinical trials. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dichloroacetic_acid#P otential_cancer_applications [wikipedia.org]

Re:Thought Cancer was already Cured (1)

reezle (239894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285264)

Yes, that's kind of the problem it's facing seeing as there no no patent possibilities, therefore no funding to run the clinical trials...
Where are your charity dollars now?

Re:Thought Cancer was already Cured (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285270)

that was the point of the article he linked in.. apparently because it cant be patented pharmas arent looking at clinical trials.

Re:Thought Cancer was already Cured (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285986)

Except that there are unpatentable cancer treatments in clinical trials all the freaking time. See my post lower in this thread.

Re:Thought Cancer was already Cured (0, Flamebait)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285198)

ahh yes.. we all must thank those benevolent pharma giants...

seriously, that kind of neglect ought to be criminal.

pharma companies are already allowed to benefit by patenting findings from public grants and public universities, they should be kept on a tighter leash.. oh wait this is the corporate states of america, where hundreds of thousands of lives a year are worth it as long as the phizer children can get their fifth lotus.

Re:Thought Cancer was already Cured (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285504)

Yeah, kick those evil pharmesutical companies. They don't spend *BILLIONS* on frivolous lawsuits or anything. It's not like 1 well publicised mistake isn't enough to destroy the ENTIRE COMPANY.

Nice conspiracy theory, pity about the holes. (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285974)

That claims that there are no clinical trials primarily because the drug is already in use and therefore not re-patentable.

How do you explain clinical trials that utilize drugs whose patents have already expired? Such as this chemo regimen [wikipedia.org] , which was in clinical trials just in the past couple of years despite several of the drugs being unpatentable. (I don't think they're giving out any new patents for prednisone and mustard gas these days.)

Sorry to interrupt. Back to your regularly scheduled Raging Against The Big Bad Pharmaceutical Machine.

Re:Thought Cancer was already Cured (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286202)

Didn't they already cure cancer with dichloroacetate?

Yeah, but the only sample was lost, along with a working room temperature fusion prototype, when some dude's flying car got stolen. Sucks. Back to fighting over oil, I guess.

Somewhere in a parallel universe... (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285114)

...antimatter beings have just discovered that cancer may be treatable with particles of ordinary matter.

Re:Somewhere in a parallel universe... (1)

GrievousMistake (880829) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286092)

We should totally trade them some.
Now, just to seal the deal with a firm handshake...

Problem with ./ cancer reports simplified ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285176)

Case 1: Killing Cancer Cells = Good
Case 2: Killing Normal Cells = Bad
Case 3: Killing Cancer Cells AND Killing Normal Cells = Bad

All too often the cancer studies that get reported here deal only with case 1

Hope commerical use reduces costs.. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285184)

of manufacturing antimatter.. cause there's only one thing more simple to build than a rocket engine, and that's an antimatter rocket engine. The potential for space technology is enormous.. if only antimatter didn't cost so damn much.

silly idea (-1)

Rutulian (171771) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285230)

I'm sorry, I'm a big proponent of science research, but this is absolutely the stupidest idea I have ever heard. Not only is anti-matter one of the most (if not the most) expensive substances on the planet, but we already have plenty of toxic compounds that kill cells just fine. The real problem isn't toxicity, it is selectivity. How do you kill cancer cells without killing the entire organism?

The hard sciences have been stepping in to get a share of the biomedical research money by declaring their research relevant to cancer, disease, bioterrorism, etc...for a while (and most are fairly legitimate claims), but this is really ridiculous. I think the high-energy folks really need to look elsewhere for applications (and hence, public relevance) to justify asking for more research money.

Re:silly idea (1)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285334)

You might try actually reading the article before spouting off. No, wait, this is Slashdot. What was I thinking?

Re:silly idea (1)

Falstius (963333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285782)

According to the article, the higher selectivity was one of the advantages over traditional proton irradiation (I suspect because you could use lower energy particles but the article is light on details and I'm just guessing). That said, I worked at CERN for a few years, and I certainly wouldn't put it past people there to aggrandize some experiment to bring in more funds. But this happens in every research field, even medicine. CERN, the birthplace of the web, also has a department of industry liaison which is responsible for selling spin-off technologies to companies, to get some return on the publics investment.

Re:silly idea (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286094)

we already have plenty of toxic compounds that kill cells just fine.

How many of those compounds are 100% guaranteed to completely disappear the instant they're done poisoning the target cells?

Re:silly idea (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286122)

The real problem isn't toxicity, it is selectivity. How do you kill cancer cells without killing the entire organism?
And if you'd read the article, you'd understand that that's exactly the advantage of antiprotons.

I found a cure, too. (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285236)

We'll just take a plasma welder to the affected area. Aside from being relatively quick, it's also cost-effective.

penis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285246)

haha "penis"

Atomic physicists? (1)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285258)

Atomic physicists work on electron structure of atoms -- not on subatomic particles. You'd think being a techie site that Slashdot wouldn't get its science wrong so often; but it seems the fucktard editors always let the side down.

Bones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285304)

Damn it Jim, I'm a doctor, not a warp core engineer!

This wont work. (-1)

Erbus (983649) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285390)

A few reasons why this won't work: a) Portability. Antimatter can't be contained in a small enough space for it to be clinically feasible. b) There's no way to get antimatter inside of you without cutting a hole in you. Which kinda defeats the purpose. c) This is like trying to treat baldness with a nuke. It's overkill. d) The radiation won't be able to be contained easily, and so therefore will probably kill the rest of you. But hey, at least the cancer will be gone.

Re:This wont work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285872)

You don't put antimater in your pocket. You create it with an accelerator and target the particles onto the tumors. Anti-protons are much more difficult to make than protons.

Re:This wont work. (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286160)

Didn't read the article, did you?

b) Same way you do with current proton beam treatments. Shoot a beam of them at the cancer. Make it several beams, that converge on the tumor.

c) No, actually it works quite well. Radiotherapy is very common. Anti-protons are just another type.

d) No more than any other type of radiotherapy. Actually, less so. That's the point of the article.

a) is your only real point, but only the first word. Antimatter is hard to store, so you can't ship it around like you can with long half life radio-pharmaceuticals. The equipment to make it is really big, so you can't just manufacture the stuff right in the hospital like you can with short half-llife radio-pharmaceuticals. The only option is to bring the patients to the accelerator.

Re:This wont work. (2, Funny)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286236)

a) Read the article. b) Read the article. c) Read the article. d) Read the article.

Misleading photo (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285444)

The photo shown in the article is that of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which will (when operational) circulate two beams of protons at 7 TeV. The total energy in the beam is 360MJ so I really doubt that you will want to use that to cure a brain tumour....although if you did I suppose it would be the first time where particle physics literally made someone's head explode!

Re: Indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285536)

When a large hardon experiences a collision, a head does explode.

Antimatter Enema (2, Funny)

hirschma (187820) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285574)

Colon cancer victims are going to give the command "jettison the warp core" a new meaning...

Re:Antimatter Enema (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18286180)

> Colon cancer victims are going to give the command "jettison the warp core" a new meaning...

"Captain! We're losing containment!! Anticipating core breach in 30 seconds... quick, beam me to the lavatory!"

How? (1)

Coucho (1039182) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285578)

How would they be able to store antimatter? Wouldn't it just eliminate itself with normal matter?

Re:How? (1)

FusionDragon2099 (799857) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285758)

Antimatter is stored in a vacuum where there is no normal matter.

no poisons or radiation is required to cure cancer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285614)

Actually all forms of cancer are created by the destruction of the respiratory chain in the mitochondria, specifically the enzyme cytochrome oxidase, or as it is now called, cytochrome a/a3. The only 'cure' needed is restoring the body back to proper health, and can very effectively be done by the correct diet. My father has been treating cancer patients for 30+ years and cured many people naturally with no medical treatments required. As a testimony of his natural treatments, my uncle was given less than a year to live, his lung cancer was so severe. That was about 10 years ago, and his cancer is gone today. All he did was follow a very strict and specialized diet my father provided for him. (granted he still requires some breathing assistance, the lung damage caused by the cancer can't be reversed, but the cancer itself is gone and he's alive and well.)

  But of course there is no money to be made by telling people all they have to do is follow the proper diet and it can be reversed. And the medical community will continue to ignore what has been known for many many years by nutritionist. Cancer isn't a disease, it's a direct result of the toxins in our air, food and water, creating an environment where the cells can no longer function properly. Restore the cells environment and the cell will restore itself. Simple as that.

Re:no poisons or radiation is required to cure can (2, Insightful)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286038)

But of course there is no money to be made by telling people all they have to do is follow the proper diet

WTF? Tell that to the late Dr. Atkins. Hell, there are plenty of books out there now specifically about treating cancer through diet (though most are responsible enough to view it as a supplement to rather than replacement for traditional therapies), and they sell. If your dad had any actual proof, trust me, he'd be a rich man.

Re:no poisons or radiation is required to cure can (1)

ShinmaWa (449201) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286154)

You are dead wrong. Cancer is really caused by subluxations in the spine, restricting the flow of the body's energies. The cure, of course, is a series simple manual adjustments that allow the body's energies to properly flow and cure the disease. It's as simple as that. Your nutritionist quackery is an obvious attempt to make money while ignoring that has been known all along by chiropractors!

hold on a second... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285744)

Don't anti matter annihilations release all sorts of EM and heat radiation in large amounts...

the total mass of both the matter and anitmatter is turned into pure energy (E=mc^2) so effectively you have double the weight of your cancer being converted to mass times the speed of light squared worth of energy...

more radiation being released into the body = more cancer?

who the fuck wants that kind of EM sent directly into their body? you'd kill the cancer for sure but it would grow back in no time at all and since the effects of EM radiation on the body are still highly unknown (as apposed to nuclear radiation which we, george bush included, know a fair bit about) i dont think this is a practical 'cure' for cancer

taking people for a ride (0)

vparkash (914055) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285808)

the research is completely bogus..... antimatter is a very unstable substance that cannot survive in our universe, because it combines with matter and both annihilate each other... for example an electron and a positron on combining mutually annihilate & produce photons.... In this regard anti matter can kill normal cells too with equal efficacy. Since there is no selectivity in this, it is as good or bad as radio therapy.. another thing, antimatter can be produced thru nuclear reactions only...so you can worry about things like nuclear laws, terrorists etc.

Re:taking people for a ride (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18285828)

antimatter can be produced thru nuclear reactions only

you mean subatomic reactions right?

nuclear reactions involve the nucleus of an atom... where as antimatter can be/is made by colliding tiny sub atomic particles (smaller than electrons) at near the speed of light. Both particles have to be traveling towards each other - there is no nucleus involved.

quite simply a nucleus is too big (protons have mass) to be propelled fast enough to create the kind of reaction used to give birth to our little anti sub atomic particle friends

Re:taking people for a ride (1)

vparkash (914055) | more than 7 years ago | (#18285988)

We broadly classify reactions into chemical and nuclear.....there's nothing official about the term "sub-atomic" reactions. Anyway.... scientists have created "Anti-Hydrogen".....although I'm not aware of any other antimatter nuclei

Re:taking people for a ride (3, Informative)

thrawn_aj (1073100) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286046)

the research is completely bogus..... antimatter is a very unstable substance that cannot survive in our universe, because it combines with matter and both annihilate each other... for example an electron and a positron on combining mutually annihilate & produce photons.... In this regard anti matter can kill normal cells too with equal efficacy. Since there is no selectivity in this, it is as good or bad as radio therapy.. another thing, antimatter can be produced thru nuclear reactions only...so you can worry about things like nuclear laws, terrorists etc.
The blanket statements I have read so far are contrary to the facts. Surely you folks have heard of PET scans (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PET_scan [wikipedia.org] ), a quite ordinary procedure these days? Well, PET stands for positron emission tomography, a really cool mapping technique which is based on low doses of a radioisotope that's chemically incorporated into a sugar being injected into the body. Based on the sugar properties (these can presumably be tailored to the purpose at hand), it then concentrates in areas of interest (there's your selectivity :P). The neat thing is how the annihilation takes place. When a positron gets near an electron, they don't actually get destroyed right away. For one thing, it's highly improbable that the expectation values of their momenta are precisely directed toward each other.

What we get then is actually a great example of an "exotic atom" - the two mirror particles form an unstable "atom" called positronium which is extremely short-lived and which decays into two photons going at 180 degrees to each other. This is important because that is the only way you can detect such an annihilation taking place. At any rate, my point is that this is hardly a "high-energy" application as so many science hacks have sneeringly pointed out here so far. Radiology is an established field of medicine and one reason it is so is because radioisotopes can be made so damn selective (tracers anyone? :P).

Yet another stupid headline (0)

labradore (26729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286002)

TFA discusses highly energetic ions from cyclotrons and synchrotrons used for treatment. The equipment would cost as much as $200M to install per hospital. Treating 2000 patients a year for ten years would cost about $10K per patient just for the equipment, not including labor, overhead, etc!


The last couple sentences in the article were thrown in offhandedly mentioning that **someday, maybe** someone could theoretically use antimatter to treat cancer. You know how much that stuff costs? According to wikipedia, $1 x 10^18 (One Quintillion) per gram [wikipedia.org] . Granted, you might only need a few pico- or nanograms to treat cancer, so that's between a $10M and $100K per treatment. By the way, in the past 25 years our worldwide annual production of the stuff worldwide has basically not increased. It's no where near enough for using medically.


So yea, you could treat cancer with antimatter... if you're the sort of person who also swats flies with nuclear weapons.

First the Web Server, Now antimatter POC (1)

mrkitty (584915) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286060)

Is there anything Cern can't do?

You know what else can kill cancer cells... (1)

cyberanth (952084) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286088)

...bullets. Also, is it really a surprise that you can kill cancer by obliterating it with antimatter? It's not made of special cancer baryons.

why it makes sense (4, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18286216)

First off, heavy ion beams make sense as a way of treating cancer. The reason is that when a heavy ion passes through matter, it decelerates along a straight-line path, and deposits a very large percentage of its energy near the very end of its path. If you compare with x-rays as a radiation treatment, x-rays deposit energy in an exponential-decay pattern, so if you're treating a brain tumor with a pencil beam of x-rays, the tissue that gets hit with the most radiation is the skin, followed by the skull, followed by the good parts of the brain, followed by the tumor. Now in reality you don't use a pencil beam, you use a focused beam, so it's not quite that bad, but focusing also works with heavy ion beams (I believe you actually rotate the patient, not the beam). So with heavy ion beams, you get energy concentrated near the tumor for two different reasons: (a) focusing, and (b) the pattern of energy loss, which is peaked at the end of the trajectory.

OK, now about antimatter. An amazing number of posters apparently (a) haven't read the article, (b) haven't understood the article, or (c) don't know enough physics to make heads or tails of any of this.

  1. Antimatter is the same as matter except that it has the opposite charge.
  2. No, you don't have to handle samples of it. They make antiprotons in a particle accelerator, and in the experiment, they delivered it to a sample of hamster cells suspended in gelatin. You'd just put the patient in the beam of the accelerator. This has already been done with beams of protons on real patients. There's absolutely no difference, in principle, between delivering a beam of protons to the tumor and delivering a beam of antiprotons.
  3. Yes, antimatter is the most expensive stuff ever made. No, that isn't particularly relevant, because you're not feeding it to the patient in gram quantities.
  4. At present, there is no dedicated medical facility where patients could get exposed to a beam of antiprotons, and there may never be. What you'd have to do, for the foreseeable future, is bring your patient to a particle acclerator, get him some beam time, and place him on the receiving end of the beam. Although beam time is incredibly expensive, it's not necessarily true that you'd have to pay for 1 hour of beam time in order to give the patient 1 hour of treatment. There may be times when the accelerator is being tested, and the beam would otherwise just be wasted. There may be times when someone is doing an experiment with 1 femtoamp of antiprotons, but they can spare 0.01 femtoamps of their beam to be diverted to the patient. Or there may be times when it's just not possible to book 100% of the available beam time for physics experiments (e.g., something goes wrong with an experiment, and they can't use the rest of their beamtime).
  5. The reason a beam of antiprotons is four times more effective than a beam of protons is that after the antiproton delivers a bunch of energy through electrical interactions with electrons, it then annihilates itself with one of the protons in a nucleus in the tumor. This is such an energetic process that I imagine every single proton and neutron in that nucleus goes zipping off separately, with energies in the MeV range. These neutrons and protons then deposit their energy in the tumor as well.
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