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Cold Plasma for Brain Cancers

When I first saw the headline about cold plasma I remembered a cartoon I watched as a kid:

Two medics arrive to help a man and his dog who have been run over in the street. One medic barks orders to the other: "Plasma! Dog plasma!" Unfortunately he mixes them up.

Plasma Types

That kind of plasma is the watery portion of your blood, which allows platelets and blood cells to flow through veins, etc.

There is also plasma that's an ionized gas, like a neon sign, or the gas produced by a spark. This kind of plasma is obliterating; it can be applied to some solid matter and zap it seemingly into nothing.

Plasma As Cancer Treatment

Doctors are now taking that plasma power and—in the lab only, not yet in people--applying it to glioblastoma, a devastating brain cancer which has a very poor prognosis and is generally very resistent to chemotherapy.

But true plasma is hot—for instance, the sun is a ball of plasma. So a new form would be needed, and that's where Cold Atmospheric Plasma (CAP) comes in.

We hear the term 'antibiotic' often, but few people know that chemotherapy drugs are antibiotics as well—they are drugs that work to inhibit life at the cellular level.

CAP is also an antibiotic, although along with being able to inactivate bacteria, fungi, and spores, it can also go to work on viruses, which conventional antibiotics cannot.

The most recent work done towards applying CAP to glioblastoma is being done at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. There, researchers grew glioblastoma cells in the lab and applied CAP and found that the treatment was not only an effective killer of the normal tumor cell line, but also of the resistent tumor cell line, which is the most problematic aspect of treating glioblastoma.

This offers some future hope for treatment of this otherwise devastating disease. The chief barrier right now is the development of a device to deliver the treatment without causing too much damage to surrounding tissue—always a barrier in cancer treatment.


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