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article imageGold nanoparticles target breast cancer

By Tim Sandle     Jun 18, 2014 in Science
Researchers have developed a way to detect and measure cancer levels in a living cell by using tiny gold particles with tails of synthetic DNA.
With the research, scientists used gold nanoparticles to target and bind to fragments of genetic material, which can indicate the presence and stage of breast cancer. The number of these variants in a cell can be determined by examining the specific signal that light produces when it interacts with the gold nanoparticles. Being able to quantify these genetic molecules could ultimately help clinicians provide better and more individualized treatment to cancer patients.
One problem with current methods of detecting cancer is that such techniques rely on samples made up of hundreds or thousands of cells and cannot provide detailed information about how genes tied to cancer are being expressed in individual cells.
With the new method, researchers have developed something that is more sensitive and accurate. They found that when injected into a cell, the nanoparticles attached to either end of genetic variants, forming structures known as dimers. Because dimers give off a unique signal in the presence of light, the researchers could measure the number of dimers by illuminating the cell with a simple light source. The number of dimers corresponded to the number of genetic variants in a cell.
Light behaves differently when it shines on a single gold particle, allowing the researchers to differentiate between dimers and free-floating gold particles. This is visualized using one of two methods: spectroscopy, which measures the way light scatters when it encounters an object, and a colorimetric image on which dimers show as reddish dots while single gold particles appear green.
The research was carried out at Purdue University under the direction of Joseph Irudayaraj, professor of agricultural and biological engineering. The research has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. The research is titled “Quantitative imaging of single mRNA splice variants in living cells.”
More about Cancer, Gold, Nanoparticles, Nanotechnology, Breast Cancer
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