TECH

'Unboiling' Eggs Using The 'Vortex Fluidic Device' Has Improved Cancer Treatment

26/05/2015 17:07 BST | Updated 26/05/2015 23:18 BST

When Australian scientist, Professor Colin Raston from Flinders University came up with a way to "unboil" an egg, few at the time thought it would one day help medicine deliver better cancer treatment.

In a study published by Nature, researchers showed how the vortex fluidic device, a machine used to turn cooked egg whites back into its original state, could be used to ensure that the delivery of cancer drugs is more targeted.

Hard boiled eggs are possible because proteins have the unique ability to change shape when heated. The vortex fluidic device reverses this process by spinning the cooked proteins, mixed with a lubricant called urea, at an incredibly high speed that causes it to return to its original uncooked form.

So how does this change things for cancer sufferers?

Carboplatin is a chemotherapy drug and what Professor Raston's device does is improve its ability to bind to cancerous cells. In other words, doctors can administer lower doses of the drug and still achieve the same results.

Professor Raston told the Sydney Morning Herald:

"By getting towards targeted delivery of cancer drugs you then need far less drugs to treat a patient.

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"This also minimises drug waste. Up to half a tonne of manufacturing waste can be generated by the production of just one kilogram of anti-cancer drugs."

Unlike the boiled egg scenario where the machine works to undo changes in protein shapes, in the case of cancer treatment, the vortex fluidic device helps enhance tiny parts of the cancer cells known as vesicles that carboplatin can bind to.

It's a genius application to ponder on next time you're tucking into a hard boiled egg.