Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Microscopy technique could be key to improving cancer treatments with targeted therapeutic drugs

Date:
February 26, 2013
Source:
University of Akron
Summary:
For scientists to improve cancer treatments with targeted therapeutic drugs, they need to be able to see proteins prevalent in the cancer cells. This has been impossible, until now. Thanks to a new microscopy technique, medical researchers have now observed how clusters of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) -- a protein abundant in lung and colon cancers, glioblastoma and others -- malfunctions in cancer cells.

The top portion of this illustration shows a 3-D image of the cells Dr. Adam Smith, and his team observe. By focusing a laser onto the cell membrane, and using the new photon-counting technique, they can measure the cluster size of EGFR proteins, which are prevalent in some common cancers. The new technique, developed by Smith, allows scientists to measure clustering at the level of individual proteins, as shown in the bottom portion of the image. Due to their small size, EGFR clusters cannot be measured using a traditional microscope.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Akron

For scientists to improve cancer treatments with targeted therapeutic drugs, they need to be able to see proteins prevalent in the cancer cells. This has been impossible, until now. Thanks to a new microscopy technique, University of Akron researcher Dr. Adam Smith, assistant professor of chemistry, has observed how clusters of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) -- a protein abundant in lung and colon cancers, glioblastoma and others -- malfunctions in cancer cells.

"We can directly observe protein clusters, in a living cell membrane, that are invisible to traditional methods. This opens up the possibility to directly measure the effect of drugs on the target proteins," Smith says.

Smith's work lies at the heart of current-day cancer research, which focuses on developing targeted drugs that kill cancer cells without the collateral damage associated with traditional treatments like chemotherapy.

Specifically, Smith used a cutting-edge photon-counting technique, which enables scientists to measure the cluster size of EGFR proteins. The technique represents a significant advancement from studying the cultures with a traditional microscope, which cannot visually capture objects as small as the EGFR clusters, according to Smith, a lead author of "Conformational Coupling across the Plasma Membrane in Activation of the EGF Receptor," published in the Jan. 31 issue of the journal Cell, which highlights the technique.

"Another difficulty with studying EGFR is that it's located in the cell membrane, which can be thought of as a fence line that defines the cell boundary, but in reality it is more like an untamed hedge row," says Smith, explaining how the new laser-based microscope technique overcomes that obstacle and allows scientists to study, in real time, how EGFR works in healthy cells and also how it malfunctions in cancer cells.

Smith's subsequent work studying the interaction of drugs with the targeted EGFR "will significantly improve drug discovery, which too often relies on indirect measure of efficacy," he says.

Partners in Smith's research include scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, and Columbia University. The National Cancer Institute, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy provided funding for this research.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. NicholasF. Endres, Rahul Das, AdamW. Smith, Anton Arkhipov, Erika Kovacs, Yongjian Huang, JeffreyG. Pelton, Yibing Shan, DavidE. Shaw, DavidE. Wemmer, JayT. Groves, John Kuriyan. Conformational Coupling across the Plasma Membrane in Activation of the EGF Receptor. Cell, 2013; 152 (3): 543 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.12.032

Cite This Page:

University of Akron. "Microscopy technique could be key to improving cancer treatments with targeted therapeutic drugs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130226092132.htm>.
University of Akron. (2013, February 26). Microscopy technique could be key to improving cancer treatments with targeted therapeutic drugs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130226092132.htm
University of Akron. "Microscopy technique could be key to improving cancer treatments with targeted therapeutic drugs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130226092132.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mini Pacemaker Has No Wires

Mini Pacemaker Has No Wires

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Cardiac experts are testing a new experimental device designed to eliminate major surgery and still keep the heart on track. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
After Cancer: Rebuilding Breasts With Fat

After Cancer: Rebuilding Breasts With Fat

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) More than 269 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Many of them will need surgery and radiation, but there’s a new simple way to reconstruct tissue using a patient’s own fat. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood Clots in Kids

Blood Clots in Kids

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Every year, up to 200,000 Americans die from a blood clot that travels to their lungs. You’ve heard about clots in adults, but new research shows kids can get them too. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Radio Waves Knock out Knee Pain

Radio Waves Knock out Knee Pain

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Doctors have used radio frequency ablation or RFA to reduce neck and back pain for years. But now, that same technique is providing longer-term relief for patients with severe knee pain. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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:
from the past week

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