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Nanopulses to Kill Cancer Cells?

Using very short, very powerful electric shocks, researchers are developing a way to jolt cancer cells into committing suicide, or healthy cells into healing wounds. The technique involves blasting cells with nanopulses. These are high-power electrical bolts that last a few billionths of a second. They deliver millions of volts--enough power to light up a city--but each burst lasts much less than the blink of an eye. Longer shocks blow a cell apart, but the fleeting nanopulses leave the cell membrane unaffected while mixing up its insides. Now they are working out how to vary the timing and intensity of the shocks to make cells behave in specific ways. It appears that nanotechnology will be the source of some major changes in the way we look at health care in the years to come.

Nature March 16, 2004

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