Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Normal' cells far from cancer give nanosignals of trouble

09.07.2009
A new Northwestern University-led study of human colon, pancreatic and lung cells is the first to report that cancer cells and their non-cancerous cell neighbors, although quite different under the microscope, share very similar structural abnormalities on the nanoscale level.

The findings, obtained using an optical technique that can detect features as small as 20 nanometers, validate the "field effect," a biological phenomenon in which cells located some distance from a malignant or premalignant tumor undergo molecular and other kinds of abnormal changes.

The most striking findings were that these nanoscale alterations occurred at some distance from the tumor and, importantly, could be identified by assessing more easily accessible tissue, such as the cheek for lung cancer detection.

The partial wave spectroscopy (PWS) technique, once optimized, could be used to detect cell abnormalities early and help physicians assess who might be at risk for developing cancer. Like a pap smear of the cervix, a simple brushing of cells is all that is needed to get the specimen required for testing.

Using PWS, the researchers made another important discovery: the abnormalities found in the nanoarchitecture of the colon cells are the same abnormalities as those found in the pancreas and lung, illustrating commonality across three very different organs.

The results are published online by the journal Cancer Research. Authors of the paper include researchers from Northwestern and NorthShore University HealthSystem.

"Our data provide a strong argument that these nanoscale changes are general phenomena in carcinogenesis and occur early in the process," says Vadim Backman, professor of biomedical engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and the paper's senior author. "These changes occur not only in cancer cells but in cells far from the tumor site and are the same in at least three different types of cancer. Given its ability to detect these changes, PWS could be used in the early screening of a variety of cancers."

Backman and his Northwestern colleagues recently developed PWS, which provides researchers with unprecedented information on the health of cells by measuring the increase in disorder -- the structural variations -- within the cell. PWS quantifies the statistical properties of cell nanoscale architecture by using the signal generated by light waves striking the complex structure of the cell.

A cell's nanoarchitecture includes the fundamental "building blocks" of the cell, which drive the molecular processes that allow a cell to function. These structures are most likely to be altered with the onset of cancer formation, says Backman, who is a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

Backman's colleague and co-author, Hemant Roy, M.D., agrees. "While very preliminary, if validated, this approach may be of great clinical and biological value," says Roy, director of gastroenterology research at NorthShore. "Indeed, the ability to determine cancer risk by interrogating readily accessible tissue may provide an important step forward in cancer screening."

"Partial wave spectroscopy is a paradigm shift from conventional diagnostic techniques, which involve interrogating the actual tumor region," adds the paper's first author, Hariharan Subramanian, a postdoctoral fellow in Backman's research group.

PWS can look inside the cell and see those critical building blocks, which include proteins, nucleosomes and intracellular membranes, and detect changes to this nanoarchitecture. Conventional microscopy cannot do this, and other techniques that can (to some degree) are expensive and complex. PWS is simple, inexpensive and minimally invasive.

In the studies, cells were collected by brushing the rectum (for the colon), the duodenum (for the pancreas) and the cheek (for the lungs). The PWS technique was able to distinguish between the patients with cancer and those without. The cancer cells showed an increase in structural disorder on the nanoscale.

For each organ, the researchers next studied non-cancerous cells that neighbored tumors. When viewed using microscopy, all three cell types looked normal. PWS, however, detected a level of disorder in the cell architecture that was much closer to that of cancer cells than it was to normal cells.

The paper is titled "Nanoscale Cellular Changes in Field Carcinogenesis Detected by Partial Wave Spectroscopy." In addition to Backman, Roy and Subramanian, the paper's other authors are Prabhakar Pradhan, of Northwestern University; Michael J. Goldberg, Joseph Muldoon, Charles Sturgis, Thomas Hensing, Daniel Ray, Andrej Bogojevic, Jameel Mohammed and Jeen-Soo Chang, of NorthShore University HealthSystem; and Randall E. Brand, formerly with NorthShore, now with the University of Pittsburgh.

Megan Fellman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.northwestern.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed
18.01.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht 127 at one blow...
18.01.2017 | Stiftung Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Leibniz-Institut für Biodiversität der Tiere

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>