Research being done on the Illinois Wesleyan University campus, and in Scotland is raising hopes of a new way to destroy tumors. Doctor Gabe Spaulding is a physicist at I-W-U, and is working with a team of students and colleagues in Dundee Scotland to target malignant growths with highly focused waves. He says the key is to get the waves to travel through hard obstacles, like bone, avoid nearby tissues, and hit the tumors:
"My part does have to do with understanding how all of these different beams are coming together interfering, scattering, and trying to come up with different approaches to make the corrections quickly, but make them well"
To that end, Spaulding and his colleagues use magnetic imaging equipment to monitor the waves. He says one end use would be for tumors of the brain, where nearby tissues must be spared the 'cooking' that results from the highly focused soundwaves, that act like intense microwaves on the malignant growths. Spaulding's team also happened upon an unexpected bonus, the beams causes things to separate, according to mass:
"We could separate white blood cells from red blood cells, and we thought, 'well, I guess that's kind of neat."
Spaulding however didn't see any use for the technique, since centrifuges could already do that. It turns out using the beams caused less cellular stress than the centrifuges. Spaulding and his team of students also created a sonic screwdriver by generating ultrasound capable of manipulating a 4-inch rubber disk that's a half inch thick. Results of the team's work are now being reported in physics journals, and by the BBC.
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