Nav: Home

New methods from material sciences in physics find their way into cancer research

June 18, 2019

Cancer research:

A new study on the behavior of water in cancer cells shows how methods usually limited to physics can be of great use in cancer research. The researchers, Murillo Longo Martins and Heloisa N. Bordallo at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, have shown how advanced methods in materials analysis - a combination of neutron scattering and thermal analysis - can be used to map the properties of water in breast cancer cells. This pilot work shows how the mobility of water molecules confined in cancer cells changes when subjected to treatment with a chemotherapy drug. This proposed methodology holds potential for advance diseases diagnosis and might guide to the advancement of the approach used in cancer treatment, one of the biggest challenges in medical research. The result, now published in Scientific Reports, is exactly that.

Comparing cancer cells before and after treatment

When treating cancer with chemotherapy, the drug is usually inserted into the body via the bloodstream. Afterwards the medicament spreads to the entire system, making its way to the cancer cells. The effect of the drug depends on many, many factors. For example, the properties of intra cellular water are altered by the action of the drug. However the role of water in the development or remission of tumors is likely bigger than so far considered. This new perspective will be very instrumental in mapping the precise development, when comparing analysis before and after treatment.

Understanding water and its properties - a common denominator for all cancer cells - is vital

Water being the main component in the composition of the cell, understanding its properties, when undergoing treatment for cancer, is vital. Cancer cells respond differently to different kinds of treatment, so a new unorthodox analysis, using techniques from materials-sciences, of the cell's main component, its composition and behavior, could be a common denominator in developing new treatments for individual patients. Murillo Longo Martins, who has been working in this field during his PhD and postdoc at the Niels Bohr Institute, explains: "Our findings indicate that, in the future, drugs can be developed focusing on modifying the properties of cellular water to achieve specific outcomes. In a shorter term, understanding the dynamics of cellular water may provide complementary knowledge about, for example, why some types of cancers respond differently to certain treatments than others".

Unorthodoxy as a method

While physicians and biologists perceive cells as an ensemble of membranes, organelles, genes and other biological components, by combining sophisticated neutron scattering techniques and thermal analysis physicists are able to characterize water dynamics in the cell very precisely. Building a communication interface between these two distinct visions is now proven to be very interesting by the researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute. Their new results can open new areas of inquiry, because of the unorthodox approach. This result is expected to stimulate future collaborations between distinct scientific communities, and further incentivize the use of materials-science approaches when investigating biological matter.
-end-


University of Copenhagen

Related Cancer Articles:

Radiotherapy for invasive breast cancer increases the risk of second primary lung cancer
East Asian female breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy have a higher risk of developing second primary lung cancer.
Cancer genomics continued: Triple negative breast cancer and cancer immunotherapy
Continuing PLOS Medicine's special issue on cancer genomics, Christos Hatzis of Yale University, New Haven, Conn., USA and colleagues describe a new subtype of triple negative breast cancer that may be more amenable to treatment than other cases of this difficult-to-treat disease.
Metabolite that promotes cancer cell transformation and colorectal cancer spread identified
Osaka University researchers revealed that the metabolite D-2-hydroxyglurate (D-2HG) promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition of colorectal cancer cells, leading them to develop features of lower adherence to neighboring cells, increased invasiveness, and greater likelihood of metastatic spread.
UH Cancer Center researcher finds new driver of an aggressive form of brain cancer
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers have identified an essential driver of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that can occur at any age.
UH Cancer Center researchers develop algorithm to find precise cancer treatments
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers developed a computational algorithm to analyze 'Big Data' obtained from tumor samples to better understand and treat cancer.
New analytical technology to quantify anti-cancer drugs inside cancer cells
University of Oklahoma researchers will apply a new analytical technology that could ultimately provide a powerful tool for improved treatment of cancer patients in Oklahoma and beyond.
Radiotherapy for lung cancer patients is linked to increased risk of non-cancer deaths
Researchers have found that treating patients who have early stage non-small cell lung cancer with a type of radiotherapy called stereotactic body radiation therapy is associated with a small but increased risk of death from causes other than cancer.
Cancer expert says public health and prevention measures are key to defeating cancer
Is investment in research to develop new treatments the best approach to controlling cancer?
UI Cancer Center, Governors State to address cancer disparities in south suburbs
The University of Illinois Cancer Center and Governors State University have received a joint four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to help both institutions conduct community-based research to reduce cancer-related health disparities in Chicago's south suburbs.
Leading cancer research organizations to host international cancer immunotherapy conference
The Cancer Research Institute, the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy, the European Academy of Tumor Immunology, and the American Association for Cancer Research will join forces to sponsor the first International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York, Sept.

Related Cancer Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...