RAPID CITY S.D., (KEVN) - Imagine a drug-free treatment that could change the lives of cancer patients everywhere?
"We all know somebody that's been diagnosed and gone through that kind of treatment and we see the effects of it on our family and friends and on that person's family and friends, so I think it'd be really amazing to have an alternative that wouldn't cause so much destruction in their lives," said Kristen Haller, senior, mechanical engineering major at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.
That's what a team of students and researchers at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology are working on using cold plasma technology to target cancer cells.
The technique involves shooting cold plasma into the cancer cells to kill them while leaving healthy cells alive.
"So what we're doing is we're combining two approaches, it will be easily portable, and less toxic, and hopefully cost-effective," said Prasoon Diwakar, Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.
Combining science and engineering, these researchers hope to replace chemotherapy.
"It just for me would be kind of crazy because I never thought that I would be doing anything involved in this, so it would be really amazing to see it progress like that," said Nicole Miller, senior, mechanical engineering major at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.
Early test results show this technique is effective with lung cancer cells.
"Lung cancer as opposed to some of the other forms of cancer, we really haven't seen over the past 30 years increase in life expectancy with the current treatments for lung cancer, so pretty much anything that we can do to improve the efficacy of treatment is going to be a huge step in the right direction," said Timothy Brenza, Assistant Professor of chemical and biological engineering at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
The next step is studying what exactly kills these cancer cells.
"Collaboration too is where new companies like this come from because if we all stay in our own separate worlds, you're not going to have this kind of development," Haller said.