Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Rush Researchers Explore Use of Nanotechnology as Diagnostic and Screening Tool for Women’s Health

Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer is a Goal

Nanotechnology is revolutionizing the way things are constructed -- from stain resistant clothing to stronger, yet lighter tennis rackets. However, the biggest impact of nanotechnology in the future is expected to be in the healthcare industry.

At Rush University Medical Center, researchers believe nanotechnology can lead to strikingly new ways to diagnosis and treat ovarian cancer. In a unique collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory and the Illinois Institute of Technology, Rush researchers are employing state-of-the-art nanotechnology to improve the health of women.

“While the mortality rates of many cancers have decreased significantly in recent decades, the rate for ovarian cancer had not changed much in the last 50 years, primarily due to delays in diagnosis,” said Dr. Jacob Rotmensch, section director of gynecologic oncology at Rush. “By exploiting the unique properties of nanotechnology, we hope to detect ovarian cancer earlier using highly sensitive imaging tools and develop drug carriers that can deliver therapeutic agents inside tumor cells.”

“A nanotechnology based approach is needed because diagnosis of early stage cancer requires the detection and characterization of very small quantities of biomarker” added Dr. Liaohai Chen, a molecular biologist and leader of the nano-bio group in the Biosciences Division at Argonne, and an adjunct faculty at Rush University Medical Center.

A nanometer is one billionth of a meter or 1/80,000 the width of a human hair. Nanoscale devices can perform tasks inside the body that would otherwise not be possible, such as entering most cells and moving through the walls of blood vessels. As a result, nanoscale devices can readily interact with individual molecules on both the cell surface and within the cell, in ways that do not alter the behavior of those molecules.

One area of research involves developing a screening test that would not require removal of the ovary for biopsy. Collaborating with Dr. Rong Wang, an associate professor at Illinois Institute of Technology, the research team is using an atomic force microscope, a very-high resolution microscope that can investigate the interaction of individual protein molecules. With this microscope the research team can study the molecular structure of cancer versus non-cancer cells and compare the stiffness. Cancer tissues are more stiff than healthy tissues. Instead of removing the ovary to determine if cancerous tissue is present, a probe is currently under development to follow the tissue stiffness in vivo to diagnose cancer.

A second area of research involving nanotechnology uses viral particles as templates to fabricate uniform, nanometer imaging probes and drug carriers. The research team is extracting the DNA from viral particles and replacing it with imaging agents. The goal is to have the viral capsule adhere to a cancer cell and inject the imaging or a therapeutic agent into the cell. This technology could lead to early diagnosis and the development of targeted drug therapy that kills cancer cells while leaving the rest of the body unharmed.

“The development of a smart probe and carrier complex will provide significant advantage to the clinicians as they can locate the tumor, monitor the drug delivery vehicle and control drug release using imaging techniques,” said Chen.

Another avenue of nanotechnology research at Rush is to develop nanometer sized contrast agents with ultrasound to diagnose ovarian cancer. Such nano ultrasonographic contrast media can pass through the smallest capillaries. These tiny bubbles light up on ultrasound and may be able to show the earliest vascular changes associated with ovarian malignancy. If this is successful, further research will be conducted to study targeted imaging as well as targeted therapy.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth-most common cancer among American women and claims the lives of more North American women each year than all other gynecologic malignancies combined. About 75 percent of patients are not diagnosed until the disease is in its later stages, and current therapies are not effective enough to successfully treat the disease in such advanced stages.

“There has been a great amount of progress made in the field of nanotechnology over the last five years, but it has not yet been applied to women’s health,” said Rotmensch. “We believe this ‘small-particle’ technology has the capability to quickly and sensitively detect cancer molecules earlier than ever before. This research opens new avenues that will directly impact patient care, such as drug development, diagnostic imaging and ultimately, prevention.”

These nanotechnology research projects are collaboration among Rush University Medical Center, Argonne National Laboratory, and the Illinois Institute of Technology under the directorships of Dr. Jacob Rotmensch and Dr. Liaohai Chen. The collaboration promotes the education, dialogue, and interaction of physicians and biologists with chemists, physicists and engineers to foster the research of applying nanotechnology to gyn-oncology and regenerative medicine. One goal of the research is to develop novel medical imaging and a drug delivery vehicle that will drive state-of-the-art screening, treatment and prevention of women’s disease to a new level.

Kim Waterman | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>