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:

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.
More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.
New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.
American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.
Oncotarget: Cancer pioneer employs physics to approach cancer in last research article
In the cover article of Tuesday's issue of Oncotarget, James Frost, MD, PhD, Kenneth Pienta, MD, and the late Donald Coffey, Ph.D., use a theory of physical and biophysical symmetry to derive a new conceptualization of cancer.
Health indicators for newborns of breast cancer survivors may vary by cancer type
In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center analyzed health indicators for children born to young breast cancer survivors in North Carolina.
Few women with history of breast cancer and ovarian cancer take a recommended genetic test
More than 80 percent of women living with a history of breast or ovarian cancer at high-risk of having a gene mutation have never taken the test that can detect it.
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.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#543 Give a Nerd a Gift
Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab