Life of a Cancer Cell

Project[edit | edit source]

The project that my research is focusing on is using nanoparticles for the detection and destruction of cancer cells.

Cancer is a difficult disease to treat, contain, and identify. There are many different ways for treating cancer such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and many others. These methods are effective if the cancer tumor is caught soon enough. However, these treatments are not effective enough because they do not only target the affected cells, they also affect healthy cells. There is new technology that is showing promise in detecting cancer cells along with destroying cancer cells using chemicals found in nature and man made chemicals. This new technology, which is a subcategory of nanotechnology, is less painful and targets the infected cells. Today nanoparticles are being studied and used for detecting and destroying cancer cells in mice. However there is one problem with this treatment which many researchers are trying to figure out how to solve. The problem is that the particles are so small that they are passing through healthy cells and making them mutate into cancer cells. In this report we are going to look at the different ways for detecting and destroying cancer by using nanoparticles.

Detecting Cancer Cells[edit | edit source]

You must be able to detect cancer cells before you can start the treatment process. Nanotechnology has found many new ways in detecting cancer cells and how far the disease has spread throughout the body. A couple of these new cancer detecting nanoparticles are gold nanoparticles and magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles encased in a biocompatibleW material.

Gold nanoparticles can be used as both detecting and destroying cancer cells. Cancer cells have a protein called Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) which the gold nanoparticles attach themselves to. “If you add this conjugated nanoparticle solution to healthy cells and cancerous cells and you look at the image, you can tell with a simple microscope that the whole cancer cell is shining,” said El-Sayed. “The healthy cell doesn’t bind to the nanoparticles specifically, so you don’t see where the cells are. With this technique, if you see a well defined cell glowing, that’s cancer.” [1] Similar to gold nanoparticles is quantum dots. These use cadmium selenide nanoparticles which glow when under ultraviolet light which makes it easier to extract the tumor. There are various benefits to using gold nanoparticles such as being less expensive since all you need is a microscope and white light. Also the results are immediately found; there is no wait period to find out if a person has cancer. This means that treatment can start immediately which could save lives. This process also isn’t toxic to healthy human cells.

Magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles encased in a biocompatible material can make detecting cancer cells easier, even if the cancer cells are small, and clearer so there is less mistakes in the detecting process. These particles stick to the tumor cells turning them into little magnets which are then attracted to the tip of a biopsy needle. “It might also be possible to detect cells from breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers that have spread to other parts of the body in amounts too tiny to sample with an ordinary needle.” [2] Instead of using biopsies, MRI’s can be used to distinguish malignant lymph nodes which can help in telling how far prostate cancer has spread. “Researchers in the Netherlands and Boston, Massachusetts, recently reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that an MRI contrast agent consisting of highly lymphotropic iron oxide nanoparticles enabled clinicians to detect small nodal metastases that otherwise would have gone undetected in 33 of the 80 patients with prostate cancer.” [3] Therefore, cancer patients can get the ideal treatment for there specific case.

To detect cancer cells you can also use diagnostic kit. This gives accurate result.

Destroying cancer cells[edit | edit source]

Now that we can detect cancer cells, we need to be able to destroy them to make the patient better. The way of destroying cancer cells now is painful, time consuming, and breaks down a patients well-being including there immune system, bone strength, and emotionally just to name a few. These treatments are not always effective. With new nanotechnology, cancer treatment can be less painful and more effective which would make the treatments less stressful for the patient. Some types of nanoparticles for destroying cancer cells are gold nanoparticles, chemical therapy carrying nanoparticles, and a nanoparticle smart bomb.

As you can see, gold nanoparticles are very important in cancer research since they are able to be used for both detecting and destroying cancer cells. Gold nanoparticles can carry chemicals to destroy a cancer cell or they can be used with radiation. Gold nanoparticles are able to be heated up by radio frequency (RF). The heated nanoparticles would in turn heat the cancer cell up which would destroy the cancer cell. These radio waves would not harm healthy cells. Infrared light waves can be used in place of radio waves to heat up the cancer cells for destruction. "In the studies that were initially reported--and this has been repeated now more than 20 times in at least three different animal models--we have seen essentially 100 percent tumor remission." [4]

Nanoparticles carrying chemical therapy show great promise in treating cancer patients. One type of chemical that the nanoparticles can carry is docetaxelW which is currently used in treating prostate cancer. The outside of these nanoparticles are coated with proteins that link directly to the cancer cells. The nanoparticles also contain polyethylene glycol molecules that help stop the internal defenses of a tumor cell. [5] Although docetaxel is one type of chemical used, there are many more that can be used.

The smart bomb is a nanoparticle that incorporates a natural anti-cancer which comes from a tree that is known as the “happy tree” from China. This new so-called smart bomb has proven itself in tests on mice and is now being tested on humans not to find the effectiveness but rather to test the safety. This smart bomb was made up by a group of scientists in Vancouver, Canada. “The nanoscale technology aspect of the system relates to the fact that the fat molecules are so microscopically tiny (one-fifth the size of a red blood cell), which allows the drug to be infused into patients' veins and then travel to cancer cells where it kills them and also disrupts the vascular system that feeds the growth of tumors.” [6]

If you go to this website you can see an animation of how nanoparticles work on a cancer cell.

Draw Backs[edit | edit source]

One major drawback is that nanoparticles could create more cancer cells. “Nanoparticles are small enough to penetrate cell membranes and defenses, yet they are large enough to cause trouble by interfering with normal cell processes.” [7]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Detecting Cancer cells[edit | edit source]

[1]Gold Nanoparticles May Simplify Cancer Detection

[2]Nanoparticles make cancer cells magnetic

[3] Nanoparticles Aid in Cancer Staging

More information on Detecting cancer cells[edit | edit source]

[8] Tumor-Homing, Self-Amplifying Nanoparticles Developed

[9] Nanomedicine

Information on destroying cancer cells[edit | edit source]

[4] Remotely Activated Nanoparticles Destroy Cancer

[5] Nanoparticles Annihilate Prostate Cancer

[6] Anti-cancer smart bomb ready for human use

More information on Destroying cancer cells[edit | edit source]

[10] Nanotechnology Animations

[11]Poly(ethylene oxide)-modified poly(-caprolactone) nanoparticles for targeted delivery of tamoxifen in breast cancer

[12] Non-invasive RF cancer treatment

Draw Backs[edit | edit source]

[7] Cancer Tip: Nanoparticles Can Damage DNA, Increase Cancer Risk

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Created March 27, 2008 by Anonymous1
Modified August 22, 2023 by Irene Delgado
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