Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Understanding the Electricity of Breast Cancer Cells

01.04.2010
Research Could Lead to the Development of Earlier Detection

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:
Magda El-Shenawee, associate professor, electrical engineering
College of Engineering
479-575-6582, magda@uark.edu
Ahmed Hassan, doctoral student, electrical engineering
College of Engineering
479-575-7757, amhassan@uark.edu
Matt McGowan, science and research communications officer
University Relations
479-575-4246, dmcgowa@uark.edu

Matt McGowan | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uark.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>