Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nanotechnology Supports Treatment of Malignant Melanoma

06.09.2016

Changes in the genetic make-up of tissue samples can be detected quickly and easily using a new method based on nanotechnology. This report researchers from the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel in first clinical tests with genetic mutations in patients with malignant melanoma. The journal Nano Letters has published the study.

According to estimates by the American Skin Cancer Foundation, today more people develop skin cancer than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer together. Although malignant melanoma accounts for only about 5 percent of skin cancers, these are the most serious cases and can result in death.


The cantilever bears the recognition sequence for the target mutation. If this is present in the sample, the corresponding segment of RNA binds to the cantilever, causing the latter to bend.

University of Basel, Department of Physics

Around half of all patients who develop malignant melanoma exhibit a particular genetic change (mutation). This involves a change in the BRAF gene (B gene for Rapid Acceleration of Fibrosarcoma) that leads to uncontrolled cell proliferation.

There are now drugs that exploit these specific mutations and fight the cancer, significantly extending patients’ life expectancy. However, they work only if the corresponding genetic mutation is actually present. Where it is not, they give rise to severe side effects without producing the desired effect.

“It is therefore essential that we are able to identify the mutations reliably in tissue samples. That is the only way of ensuring that patients get the right treatment and successful outcomes,” explains the paper’s co-author, Professor Katharina Glatz of the Institute of Pathology at University Hospital Basel.

Coated microcantilevers

In a clinical pilot study, the team led by Professor Ernst Meyer and Professor Christoph Gerber at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute and the Department of Physics at Basel University used nanosensors for the first time to detect the mutations in tissue samples from patients with malignant melanoma. To do so, the researchers employed tiny cantilevers that were coated in different ways. Some of them carried a recognition sequence for the mutation the researchers were targeting.

Then genetic material (RNA) from the patients’ tissue samples was isolated and applied to the cantilevers. If the genetic change is present, the patient’s RNA binds to the recognition sequence on the cantilever. The resulting surface stress leads to bending of the cantilever, which can be measured. If the mutation is absent from the RNA sample, this bending does not occur – in other words, only a specific binding produces a signal. The advantage of using nanocantilevers is that no time-consuming procedures are needed. It takes less than a day to move from performing the biopsy to diagnosis.

Unthinkable 30 years ago

In this study, the Basel research team was able to demonstrate that nanomechanical microcantilevers can identify mutations in complex mixtures of total RNA isolated from tissue samples. At first, cantilevers were used only in atomic force microscopes. Professor Christoph Gerber – who is due to receive the Kavli Prize in Oslo on 6 September, together with Gerd Binnig and Cal Quate, for developing the atomic force microscope – observes: “Thirty years ago, we weren’t able to foresee that our technology might one day be used in hospital for personalized medicine – ‘from the bench to the bedside’, as it were.”

Original article

François Huber, Hans Peter Lang, Katharina Glatz, Donata Rimoldi, Ernst Meyer, and Christoph Gerber
Fast Diagnostics of BRAF Mutations in Biopsies from Malignant Melanoma
Nano Letters (2016), doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.6b01513

Further Information

• Dr. François Huber, University of Basel, Department of Physics, Tel. +41 61 207 37 69, E-Mail: francois.huber@unibas.ch
• Prof. Dr. Christoph Gerber, University of Basel, Department of Physics, Tel. +41 61 207 37 37, E-Mail: christoph.gerber@unibas.ch

Reto Caluori | Universität Basel

Further reports about: BRAF Melanoma Nanotechnology RNA malignant malignant melanoma tissue samples

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden

nachricht The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>