11 November 2009

Silicon oxide beads will help in the diagnosis of cancer

A group of scientists from Clarkson University in the USA has developed a method for detecting cervical cancer cells using silicon oxide particles. 

The existing methods of identifying cancer cells are mainly based on classical methods of biology, such as visual identification of malignant neoplasms, genetic tests or analysis of cell growth.

Despite a fairly high level of development, these methods still have a number of disadvantages, including low accuracy or a lengthy analysis procedure, which causes inconvenience in clinical use.

American researchers led by Professor Igor Sokolov turned to physics for help in the hope of developing an alternative, more accurate and simpler method for detecting cancer cells. Describing his method in the journal Small (Iyer et al. Towards Nonspecific Detection of Malignant Cervical Cells with Fluorescent Silica Beads), they substantiate its essence by the phenomenon of nonspecific (purely physical) adhesion of silicon oxide particles on the cell surface.

The development of this method was preceded by another study published not so long ago by the same scientists in Nature Nanotechnology, in which they noticed a previously unobserved difference in the physical properties of the surface of normal and cancer cells of the human cervical epithelium. In particular, they found significant differences in the properties of the villi on the cell surface. It was these differences that served as the starting point for this work. As scientists have suggested, differences in the structure of the villi should lead to a change in the parameters of adhesion (adhesion) of various particles to the surface of these cells.

The adhesion process was studied using atomic force microscopy. Microscope cantilevers with silicon oxide particles in the form of beads attached to them alternately touched the surface of the cells. At the same time, the force required to separate the particle from the cell was measured, as well as the adhesion force.

The difference in adhesion is purely physical in nature, and it was used to recognize cancer and normal cells. A high degree of adhesion means that more particles stick to the cell surface. Using fluorescent silicon oxide particles, it is easy to measure the amount of fluorescent light emanating from these particles, and thus determine the number of particles themselves

Scientists took special, especially brightly fluorescent particles of silicon oxide, also developed by Sokolov's group, for experiments. After performing experiments on cancer and healthy cells of cervical tissue, the researchers clearly stated a significant difference.

The results achieved in this study may contribute to earlier diagnosis and treatment of cancer, which is crucial for reducing mortality from this disease.

Although it may seem that the achievements obtained promise the emergence of new, advanced, faster, more convenient and accurate methods of cancer diagnosis and treatment, Professor Sokolov is in no hurry to rejoice: "The problem lies in the diversity of human individuals. The differences observed during our experiment were obtained for only six subjects. This is enough to demonstrate the phenomenon, but not enough to be able to talk about a new clinical method. It is necessary to obtain additional experimental and statistical data before seeking clinical application."

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on Science Daily: Novel Cancer Detection Method Uses Tiny Silica Beads To Adhere To Cells11.11.2009

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