Saturday September 21, 2019

Engineers Develop Novel Wearable Device That Grabs Cancer Cells From Blood

It can also be used to grow the captured cancer cells, producing larger samples for further analysis

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Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

A team of US engineers have developed a prototype wearable device that can continuously collect live cancer cells directly from a patient’s blood in an advance that could help patients avoid biopsy as well as get treatment for cancer more effectively.

Most cancer cells cannot survive in the bloodstream, but those that do are more likely to start a new tumour.

Typically, it is these satellite tumours, called metastases, which are deadly, rather than the original tumour. They can release more than 1,000 cancer cells into the bloodstream in a single minute.

This means cancer cells captured from blood could provide better information for planning treatments than those from a conventional biopsy, the researchers explained.

“Nobody wants to have a biopsy. If we could get enough cancer cells from the blood, we could use them to learn about the tumour biology and direct care for the patients. That’s the excitement of why we’re doing this,” said Daniel F. Hayes, Professor at the University of Michigan.

Cancer patient
Cancer patient.

The wearable device contains a cell-grabbing chip, which in animal tests trapped 3.5 times as many cancer cells per millilitre of blood as it did running samples collected by a blood draw, according to the paper published in the journal Nature Communications.

The chip uses nanomaterial graphene oxide to create dense forests of antibody-tipped molecular chains, enabling it to trap more than 80 per cent of the cancer cells in the blood that flows across it.

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It can also be used to grow the captured cancer cells, producing larger samples for further analysis.

The team estimates the device could begin human trials in three to five years. It would be used to help optimise treatments for human cancers by enabling doctors to see if the cancer cells are making the molecules that serve as targets for many newer cancer drugs. (IANS)

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Subjecting Cancer Cells to Microgravity Results in Formation of Giant Cancer Cells with Stem Cell Properties

Stem cells are difficult to isolate and grow

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Cancer Cells, Microgravity, Stem Cell
In a statement issued here on Tuesday, IIT-M said these cells can conceivably be used for cancer research and drug development. Pixabay

 Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) have found that subjecting cancer cells to microgravity results in the formation of giant cancer cells with stem cell properties.

In a statement issued here on Tuesday, IIT-M said these cells can conceivably be used for cancer research and drug development.

Stem cells are difficult to isolate and grow. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) generally make up just one per cent to three per cent of all cells in a tumour.

Research is being conducted all over the world to extract and culture CSCs for cancer understanding and drug development, the statement said.

Cancer Cells, Microgravity, Stem Cell
Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) have found that subjecting cancer cells to microgravity results in the formation of giant cancer cells with stem cell properties. Pixabay

The research was led by Professor Rama S. Verma of the Stem Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory, Bhupat, and Jyoti Mehta School of Biosciences, Department of Biotechnology, IIT-M.

“We have shown that simulated microgravity can be used for development of stem cell structures for drug testing, instead of animal models. CSCs are important in cancer research because they not only instigate formation of tumours, but are also involved in recurrence of tumours after cancer treatment,” Verma was quoted as saying in the statement.

He said the stem cells obtained using microgravity can also be used to understand the nature of the cancer cells, their proliferation and cell death pathways, which in turn can help in identification of target zones for drug development.

In an earlier study, the IIT Madras team had found that colorectal cancer cells died under simulated microgravity but once the microgravity condition was removed, they resurrected.

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This meant that while microgravity conditions destroyed full-grown cancer cells, they must have allowed stem cells to live, or perhaps converted the cancer cells to stem cell-like forms.

“Either way, these stem cells can be used for cancer research and drug development,” said Verma. (IANS)