In addition to detecting a unique odor signature associated with melanoma cells, the researchers also demonstrated that a nanotechnology-based sensor could reliably differentiate melanoma cells from normal skin cells. The findings suggest that non-invasive odor analysis may be a valuable technique in the detection and early diagnosis of human melanoma.
Melanoma is a tumor affecting melanocytes, skin cells that produce the dark pigment that gives skin its color. The disease is responsible for approximately 75 percent of skin cancer deaths, with chances of survival directly related to how early the cancer is detected. Current detection methods most commonly rely on visual inspection of the skin, which is highly dependent on individual self-examination and clinical skill.
The current study took advantage of the fact that human skin produces numerous airborne chemical molecules known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, many of which are odorous. “There is a potential wealth of information waiting to be extracted from examination of VOCs associated with various diseases, including cancers, genetic disorders, and viral or bacterial infections,” notes George Preti, PhD, an organic chemist at Monell who is one of the paper’s senior authors.
In the study, published online ahead of print in the Journal of Chromatography B, researchers used sophisticated sampling and analytical techniques to identify VOCs from melanoma cells at three stages of the disease as well as from normal melanocytes. All the cells were grown in culture.
The researchers used an absorbent device to collect chemical compounds from air in closed containers containing the various types of cells. Then, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry techniques were used to analyze the compounds and identified different profiles of VOCs emitting from melanoma cells relative to normal cells.
Both the types and concentrations of chemicals were affected. Melanoma cells produced certain compounds not detected in VOCs from normal melanocytes and also more or less of other chemicals. Further, the different types of melanoma cells could be distinguished from one another.
Noting that translation of these results into the clinical diagnostic realm would require a reliable and portable sensor device, the researchers went on to examine VOCs from normal melanocytes and melanoma cells using a previously described nano-sensor.
Constructed of nano-sized carbon tubes coated with strands of DNA, the tiny sensors can be bioengineered to recognize a wide variety of targets, including specific odor molecules. The nano-sensor was able to distinguish differences in VOCs from normal and several different types of melanoma cells.
“We are excited to see that the DNA-carbon nanotube vapor sensor concept has potential for use as a diagnostic. Our plan is to move forward with research into skin cancer and other diseases,” said A.T. Charlie Johnson, PhD, Professor of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the development of the olfactory sensor.
Together, the findings provide proof-of-concept regarding the potential of the two analytical techniques to identify and detect biomarkers that distinguish normal melanocytes from different melanoma cell types.
“This study demonstrates the usefulness of examining VOCs from diseases for rapid and noninvasive diagnostic purposes,” said Preti. “The methodology should also allow us to differentiate stages of the disease process.”
Current studies are focusing on analysis of VOCs from tumor sites of patients diagnosed with primary melanoma.
Also contributing to the research were lead author Jae Kwak, Michelle Gallagher, Mehmet Hakan Ozdener, Charles J. Wysocki, Adam Faranda, and Amaka Isamah, all from Monell; A. T. Charlie Johnson, Brett R. Goldsmith, and Steven S. Fakharzadeh from the University of Pennsylvania; and Meenhard Herlyn from The Wistar Institute. Research reported in the publication was supported by The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number T 32 DC00014-26 to Monell. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Additional funds were donated to the Monell Center by Ms. Bonnie Hunt in memory of her parents, Ida and Percy Hunt. Support for Drs Johnson and Goldsmith came from the University of Pennsylvania Nano/Bio Interface Center through National Science Foundation grant NSEC DMR08-32802.
The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an independent nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For 45 years, Monell has advanced scientific understanding of the mechanisms and functions of taste and smell to benefit human health and well-being. Using an interdisciplinary approach, scientists collaborate in the programmatic areas of sensation and perception; neuroscience and molecular biology; environmental and occupational health; nutrition and appetite; health and well-being; development, aging and regeneration; and chemical ecology and communication. For more information about Monell, visit www.monell.org.
Leslie Stein | Newswise
Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY
NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences