Wednesday, June 16, 2021

New Nanotechnology Used to Monitor Cancer Worth Its Weight in Gold

A new blood test using gold nanoparticles could soon give oncologists an early and more accurate prognosis of how cancer treatment is progressing, and help guide the on-going therapy of patients. Researchers at the University of Queensland have developed new nanotechnology to monitor the diversity of individual cancer cells circulating in the body.

In close collaboration with oncologists at the Olivia Newton John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI), the technology was tested on blood samples from melanoma patients and was able to track critical changes in spreading tumor cells before, during, and after treatment.

UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) Ph.D. student Jing Wang said the simple nanotechnology looked at changes in circulating tumor cells, which could indicate whether a cancer is attempting to spread and reveal its response to treatment:

Ms. Wang said this was an issue because the types of proteins on the surfaces of CTCs could vary from one type of cancer to another, and even within in the same cancer:

With the help of oncology collaborators at the ONJCRI, the researchers demonstrated that the diagnostic approach could be easily translated to the clinic. The gold nanoparticle technology was tested on blood samples taken from melanoma patients during of the course of cancer treatment.

Professor Matt Trau and PhD student Jing Wang. (Credit: University of Queensland)
Professor Matt Trau and Ph.D. student Jing Wang. (Credit: University of Queensland)

The technology successfully tracked in real-time how the diversity of tumor cell populations were changing in response to particular therapies for all of the patients studied, and was highly predictive of treatment effectiveness and patient outcomes.

AIBN researcher Professor Matt Trau said they hope the technology can be developed into a simple hand-held device:

Olivia Newton John Cancer Research Institute’s Medical Director Professor Jonathan Cebon said having information about changes at a cellular level had the potential to guide cancer therapy in real-time:

The study has been published in Nature Communications.

Provided by: University of Chicago Medicine [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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Troy Oakes
Troy was born and raised in Australia and has always wanted to know why and how things work, which led him to his love for science. He is a professional photographer and enjoys taking pictures of Australia's beautiful landscapes. He is also a professional storm chaser where he currently lives in Hervey Bay, Australia.

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