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La Tech Research: From Cancer to Kitty Litter - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

La Tech Research: From Cancer to Kitty Litter

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RUSTON, La -

A local university looks at everything from how to kill cancer cells to creating a better kitty litter.

Mark DeCoster is seeing cancer in 3-D.

"What's novel is we're putting this together with some technology we've discovered in my group here at Louisiana Tech to let cells grow in three dimensions," he said.

The Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Louisiana Tech says researchers used to study cancer cells in 2-D but that's limiting because cancer cells are 3-Dimensional.

While DeCoster's team isn't the only group of researchers out there taking this new approach, he feels their method has the upper hand in some ways.

"We've looked at what others are doing and their systems are more cumbersome, more expensive," he said.

Once DeCoster grows 3-D cancer cells he tries different ways to kill them.

"Using magnetic materials to deliver drugs to cells to control cell growth," he said.

Using magnets is very non-invasive.

"As we chop materials down smaller and smaller for example magnetic materials, we can make them so small, a nanoparticle that's magnetic, that it can enter a cell," he said. "But a magnet doesn't need to touch you. You can have a magnetic field that can pull on that cell to heat it, to kill it."

While DeCoster works with his team, Yuri Lvov works with his team.

Lvov is an internationally acclaimed chemist working at Tech who loves to be number one.

"To get funded to do more research, you have to be first," he said.

Professor Lvov has been first in some major categories.

He even won the Humboldt prize.

"You have to try always to be brave and not to be afraid to lose everything," he said.

Lvov and his team work on a lot of projects right now.

One of their big undertakings is a more flame retardant paint.

However, that's not all.

"We are doing big tasks like new plastic composites functional, we are doing work for the gas and oil industry like a new type of propane and we are doing home things like cat litter," he said.

Yes, cat litter.

They have a couple of prototypes of kitty litter that are more absorbent, lighter, and cheaper.

All of these products need more testing before you'll see them hit store shelves.

However, when you do, you'll know teams of researchers had to look at these products on the nano-level.

Lvov also works on a coating for hospital floors that kills infections rather than helps them spread.

DeCoster created a nano-engineered kit for medical researchers.

It more accurately shows how the body works in 3-D.

He's on track to begin selling that kit soon, which will hopefully help researchers everywhere in their quest for a cure for cancer.

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