Possible carcinogenic cells indicator detected
Supported by Raman spectroscopy and using gold and silver nanoparticles, researchers of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) in Manizales Materials Optic Properties Research Group hope to contribute to early cancer diagnostics.Bogotá D. C., 15 de julio de 2016 — Agencia de Noticias UN-
Raman spectroscopy detects bacteria, fungi and several types of infections in the first stages of development.
The human body has more than 200 types of cells that through some biological processes may turn into anomalous or cancerous cells.
Breast cancer is one of the most frequent diseases among women in the world. In Colombia it is the third cause of death, after cervical and stomach cancer.
Despite prevention strategies, in low and middle-income countries such as Colombia, cancer diagnosis is carried out in very advanced stages.
Carolina Valencia Muñoz, Sciences–Physics master’s candidate and member of the group claims that traditional histological methods (cytology, for instance) require special sample preparation.
“As opposed to spectroscopy which is an optical technique which does not need chemical reagents and provides information of the biochemical composition of the sample; therefore results indicate presence of proteins, amino acids and lipids,” said Valencia.
Raman spectroscopy is a technique which uses a laser as a sensing device coupled with cutting-edge optical signal generation and detection system. This helps observing and analyzing cancer samples provided by the Pathology Institute of Caldas.
Although applying this technique is part of diverse research projects headed by Professor Carlos Vargas Hernández, this is the first using gold and silver nanoparticles which are applied directly to a series of samples (biopsies). In this manner they can observe alterations such as presence or absence of a preferential type of proteins surrounding the carcinogenic cell.
Metallic nanoparticles used in this project have shown benefits when analyzing tissue samples compared with samples which do not have nanoparticles. Furthermore there are notorious differences in both tissues (healthy and diseased) where mammary gland characteristic lipids and proteins are present or absent.
This project is very important as it could represent a complementary technique to cancer studies in pathological laboratories. Additionally it contributes to early breast cancer diagnosis and favors mortality statistics in Colombia.
“These cells have lipids and proteins; however we need to establish a protocol so it may be endorsed as a new diagnostic class. We also need to repeat the process until achieving the type of activating structure in early stages,” said Vargas.
According to Vargas using metal nanoparticles such as gold and silver enable developing an indirect method which does not detect the carcinogenic cell per se but optically perceives what occurs in its surroundings.
“Using functional metallic nanoparticles we can couple them to the environment of the cell and stimulate interaction between them. This produces surface plasmon resonance of the laser which falls on the sample; therefore the emitted signal can be captured and processed. Additionally by changing nanoparticle sizes and forms we can maximize Raman signals and visualize some indicators, which are relevant for the first stages of diagnosis,” said Vargas.
Therefore besides being highly internationally valued metals, gold and silver could become essential elements for developing technologies placed to service healthcare, and help fight cancer, the worst enemy of human healthcare.(Por: Fin/IJR/DMH/APBL