Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Chemical Nose' May Sniff Out Cancer Earlier

Date:
June 24, 2009
Source:
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Summary:
Using a "chemical nose" array of nanoparticles and polymers, researchers have developed a fundamentally new, more effective way to differentiate not only between healthy and cancerous cells but also between metastatic and non-metastatic cancer cells. It's a tool that could revolutionize cancer detection and treatment, according to chemists.

Nanoparticles and polymers were used to create a sensor that can distinguish between healthy, cancerous and metastatic cells.
Credit: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Using a “chemical nose” array of nanoparticles and polymers, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a fundamentally new, more effective way to differentiate not only between healthy and cancerous cells but also between metastatic and non-metastatic cancer cells. It’s a tool that could revolutionize cancer detection and treatment, according to chemist Vincent Rotello and cancer specialist Joseph Jerry.

An article describing Rotello and colleagues’ new chemical nose method of cancer detection appears in the June 23 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online.

Currently, detecting cancer via cell surface biomarkers has taken what’s known as the “lock and key” approach. Drawbacks of this method include that foreknowledge of the biomarker is required. Also, as Rotello explains, a cancer cell has the same biomarkers on its surface as a healthy cell, but in different concentrations, a maddeningly small difference that can be very difficult to detect. “You often don’t get a big signal for the presence of cancer,” he notes. “It’s a subtle thing.”

He adds, “Our new method uses an array of sensors to recognize not only known cancer types, but it signals that abnormal cells are present. That is, the chemical nose can simply tell us something isn’t right, like a ‘check engine light,’ though it may never have encountered that type before.” Further, the chemical nose can be designed to alert doctors of the most invasive cancer types, those for which early treatment is crucial.

In blinded experiments in four human cancer cell lines (cervical, liver, testis and breast), as well as in three metastatic breast cell lines, and in normal cells, the new detection technique correctly indicated not only the presence of cancer cells in a sample but also identified primary cancer vs. metastatic disease.

In further experiments to rule out the possibility that the chemical nose had simply detected individual differences in cells from different donors, the researchers repeated the experiments in skin cells from three groups of cloned BALB /c mice: healthy animals, those with primary cancer and those with metastatic disease. Once again, it worked. “This result is key,” says Rotello. “It shows that we can differentiate between the the three cell types in a single individual using the chemical nose approach.”

Rotello’s research team, with colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology, designed the new detection system by combining three gold nanoparticles that have special affinity for the surface of chemically abnormal cells, plus a polymer known as PPE, or para-phenyleneethynylene. As the ‘check engine light,’ PPE fluoresces or glows when displaced from the nanoparticle surface.

By adding PPE bound with gold nanoparticles to human cells incubating in wells on a culture plate, the researchers induce a response called “competitive binding.” Cell surfaces bind the nanoparticles, displacing the PPE from the surface. This turns on PPE’s fluorescent switch. Cells are then identified from the patterns generated by different particle-PPE systems.

Rotello says the chemical nose approach is so named because it works like a human nose, which is arrayed with hundreds of very selective chemical receptors. These bind with thousands of different chemicals in the air, some more strongly than others, in the endless combination we encounter. The receptors report instantly to the brain, which recognizes patterns such as, for example, “French fries,” or it creates a new smell pattern.

Chemical receptors in the nose plus the brain’s pattern recognition skills together are incredibly sensitive at detecting subtly different combinations, Rotello notes. We routinely detect the presence of tiny numbers of bacteria in meat that’s going bad, for instance. Like a human nose, the chemical version being developed for use in cancer also remembers patterns experienced, even if only once, and creates a new one when needed.

For the future, Rotello says further studies will be undertaken in an animal model to see if the chemical nose approach can identify cell status in real tissue. Also, more work is required to learn how to train the chemical nose’s sensors to give more precise information to physicians who will be making judgment calls about patients’ cancer treatment. But the future is promising, he adds. “We’re getting complete identification now, and this can be improved by adding more and different nanoparticles. So far we’ve experimented with only three, and there are hundreds more we can make.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Massachusetts Amherst. "'Chemical Nose' May Sniff Out Cancer Earlier." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090623164539.htm>.
University of Massachusetts Amherst. (2009, June 24). 'Chemical Nose' May Sniff Out Cancer Earlier. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090623164539.htm
University of Massachusetts Amherst. "'Chemical Nose' May Sniff Out Cancer Earlier." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090623164539.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) Stepping up their vigilance against Ebola, federal authorities said Wednesday that everyone traveling into the US from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

AFP (Oct. 22, 2014) Polish doctors describe how they helped a paralysed man walk again, with the patient in disbelief at the return of sensation to his legs. Duration: 1:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins