Building on previous findings demonstrating that breast cancer cells emit unique electromagnetic signals, engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have found that a single cancerous cell produces electric signals proportional to the speed at which the cell divides. Their model reveals that heightened movement of ions at the boundary of the cancerous cell produces larger electrical signals.
The findings will help scientists understand the biophysics associated with rapidly dividing breast cancer cells and may contribute to the development of new detection and treatment techniques.
“All cells maintain a difference in voltage between their intracellular and extracellular media,” said Ahmed Hassan, doctoral student in electrical engineering. “Previous work found that MCF-7, a standard breast cancer cell line, hyperpolarizes – meaning simply that it increases its membrane voltage in negative polarity – during two critical stages prior to cell division. What we’re trying to do is build a better understanding of how this complicated mechanism works.”
Hassan works under the direction of Magda El-Shenawee, associate professor of electrical engineering. In previous work, El-Shenawee created a microwave-imaging system that provides sharp, three-dimensional images of hard objects buried within soft tissue. She was able to do this by transmitting and receiving electromagnetic waves that traveled through soft tissue and bounced off the hard object.
The new direction of El-Shenawee’s research does not require transmission of electromagnetic waves. Rather, in a process known as passive biopotential diagnosis – special sensors only receive electromagnetic waves. They read the unique signals released by activity within and around a growing tumor. As mentioned above, Hassan and El-Shenawee focused on a single cell, which may help researchers recognize abnormalities long before cell aggregates reach the tumor stage. A 1-millimeter tumor comprises tens of thousands of cells.
To understand the biomagnetic signals of a single breast cancer cell, Hassan and El-Shenawee created a two-dimensional, biophysics-based model with computer simulations that allowed them to obtain densities of electrical current based on space and time. They then integrated the current densities to calculate the biomagnetic fields produced by a cancerous lesion. The model avoided the risk of oversimplification by placing the cell in a semi-finite, dynamic environment with realistic anatomical features such as cell membranes, blood vessels and surrounding tissue boundaries.
They focused on hyperpolarization during what is known as the G1/Synthesis transition, a critical process that occurs within a cell before it starts to divide. During the G1 stage, the cell grows and proteins are created. The Synthesis stage includes DNA synthesis and chromosome replication to provide a new set of chromosomes for a new cell. As Hassan mentioned, previous experimental measurements on cancerous MCF-7 cells revealed that during the transition between the G1 and Synthesis stages, electrical changes occurred.
The numerical results of the Arkansas research validated the findings above. Beyond this, Hassan and El-Shenawee discovered that shorter G1/Synthesis-transition durations and heightened movement of ions at the cell boundary was associated with a higher magnitude of electromagnetic signals.
In a future study, the researchers will couple the single-cell model with a tumor-growth model to produce simulations of electric signals created by a whole tumor.
“We are motivated to provide a tool for understanding experimental measurements that prove that growing tumor cells indeed generate electric signals,” El-Shenawee said. “This multidisciplinary model has the potential to advance the biopotential diagnosis system to achieve high accuracy in measuring benign versus malignant tumors. Another benefit is that there would be no side effects, as no chemical or radiation would be sent into the body.”
The researchers’ computer modeling work was done using Star of Arkansas, a supercomputer in the Arkansas High Performance Computing Center at the University of Arkansas.
Their study was published in a recent issue of IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. Copies of the study are available upon request.CONTACTS:
Matt McGowan | Newswise Science News
Further reports about: > Cancer > blood vessel > breast > breast cancer > breast cancer cells > cancer cells > cell membrane > computer simulation > electric signal > electrical engineering > electricity > electromagnetic signal > electromagnetic wave > magnetic field > magnetic waves > methanol fuel cells > synthesis
First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife
Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.10.2016 | Process Engineering