Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > New DNA Test Uses Nanotechnology to Find Early Signs of Cancer

In this illustration by Yi Zhang, quantum dots are depicted as gold spheres that attract DNA strands linked to cancer risks. When the quantum dots are exposed to certain types of light, they transfer the energy to fluorescent molecules, shown as pink globes, that emit a glow. This enables researchers to detect and count the DNA strands linked to cancer.
In this illustration by Yi Zhang, quantum dots are depicted as gold spheres that attract DNA strands linked to cancer risks. When the quantum dots are exposed to certain types of light, they transfer the energy to fluorescent molecules, shown as pink globes, that emit a glow. This enables researchers to detect and count the DNA strands linked to cancer.

Abstract:
Using tiny crystals called quantum dots, Johns Hopkins researchers have developed a highly sensitive test to look for DNA attachments that often are early warning signs of cancer. This test, which detects both the presence and the quantity of certain DNA changes, could alert people who are at risk of developing the disease and could tell doctors how well a particular cancer treatment is working.

New DNA Test Uses Nanotechnology to Find Early Signs of Cancer

Baltimore, MD | Posted on August 18th, 2009

The new test was reported in a paper called "MS-qFRET: a quantum dot-based method for analysis of DNA methylation," published in the August issue of the journal Genome Research. The work also was presented at a conference of the American Association of Cancer Research.

"If it leads to early detection of cancer, this test could have huge clinical implications," said Jeff Tza-Huei Wang, an associate professor of mechanical engineering whose lab team played a leading role in developing the technique. "Doctors usually have the greatest success in fighting cancer if they can treat it in its early stage."

Wang and his students developed the test over the past three years with colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Stephen B. Baylin, deputy director of the center and a co-author of the Genome Research study, said the test represents "a very promising platform" to help doctors detect cancer at an early stage and to predict which patients are most likely to benefit from a particular therapy.

The recent study, which included the detection of DNA markers in the sputum from lung cancer patients, was designed to show that the technology was sound. Compared to current methods, the test appeared to be more sensitive and delivered results more quickly, the researchers said. "The technique looks terrific, but it still needs to be tested in many real-world scenarios," Baylin said. "Some of these studies are already under way here. If we continue to see exciting progress, this testing method could easily be in wide use within the next five years."

The target of this test is a biochemical change called DNA methylation, which occurs when a chemical group called methyl attaches itself to cytosine, one of the four nucleotides or base building blocks of DNA. When methylation occurs at critical gene locations, it can halt the release of proteins that suppress tumors. When this occurs, it is easier for cancer cells to form andmultiply. As a result, a person whose DNA has this abnormal gene DNA methylation may have a higher risk of developing cancer. Furthermore, these methylation changes appear to be an early event that precedes the appearance of genetic mutations, another precursor to cancer.

To detect this DNA methylation, the Johns Hopkins team found a way to single out the troublesome DNA strands that have a methyl group attached to them. Through a chemical process called bisulfite conversion, all segments that lack a methyl group are transformed into another nucleotide.

Then, another lab process is used to make additional copies of the remaining target DNA strands that are linked to cancer. During this process, two molecules are attached to opposite ends of each DNA strand. One of these molecules is a protein called biotin. The other is a fluorescent dye. These partner molecules are attached to help researchers detect and count the DNA strands that are associated with cancer.

To do this, these customized DNA strands are mixed with quantum dots, which are crystals of semiconductor material whose sizes are in the range of only few nanometers across. (A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, far too small to see with the naked eye) These dots are usually employed in electronic circuitry, but they have recently proved to be helpful in biological applications as well. Quantum dots are useful because they possess an important property: They easily transfer energy. When light shines on a quantum dot, the dot quickly passes this energy along to a nearby molecule, which can use the energy to emit a fluorescent glow. This behavior makes the cancer-related DNA strands light up and identify themselves.

In the Johns Hopkins cancer test, the quantum dots have been coated with a chemical that is attracted to biotin-one of the two molecules that were attached to the DNA strands. As a result, up to 60 of the targeted DNA strands can stick themselves to a single quantum dot, like arms extending from an octopus. Then, an ultraviolet light or a blue laser is aimed at the sample. The quantum dots grab this energy and immediately transfer it to the fluorescent dyes that were attached earlier to the targeted DNA strands. These dye molecules use the energy to light up.

These signals, also called fluorescence, can be detected by a machine called a spectrophotometer. By analyzing these signals, the researchers can discover not only whether the sample contains the cancer-linked DNA but how much of the DNA methylation is present. Larger amounts can be associated with a higher cancer risk.

"This kind of information could allow a patient with positive methylation to undergo more frequent cancer screening tests. This method could replace the traditionally more invasive ways for obtaining patient samples with a simple blood test," said Vasudev J. Bailey, a biomedical engineering doctoral student from Bangalore, India, who was one of the two lead authors on the Genome Research paper. "It's also important because these test results could possibly help a doctor determine whether a particular cancer treatment is working. It could pave the way for personalized chemotherapy."

In addition, because different types of cancer exhibit distinctive genetic markers, the researchers say the test should be able to identify which specific cancer a patient may be at risk of developing. Markers for lung cancer, for example, are different from markers for leukemia.

The other lead author of the Genome Research paper was Hariharan Easwaran, a cancer biology research fellow in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Along with Wang and Baylin, the other co-authors were Yi Zhang, a biomedical engineering doctoral student at Johns Hopkins; Elizabeth Griffiths, an oncology clinical fellow in the School of Medicine; Steven A. Belinsky, of the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, N.M.; James G. Herman, a professor of cancer biology in the School of Medicine; and Hetty E. Carraway, an assistant professor of oncology in the School of Medicine.

Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer staff members have applied for international patent protection covering the testing technique and are in talks with a biotechnology company that has expressed interest in licensing the application.

The research was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute, the National Science Foundation, the Hodson Foundation and the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute.

####

About Johns Hopkins University
The mission of The Johns Hopkins University is to educate its students and cultivate their capacity for life-long learning, to foster independent and original research, and to bring the benefits of discovery to the world.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Phil Sneiderman
(443) 287-9960

Copyright © Johns Hopkins University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering™: Brand-new journal names editor July 29th, 2014

Harris & Harris Group Invests in Unique NYC Biotech Accelerator July 29th, 2014

Tough foam from tiny sheets: Rice University lab uses atom-thick materials to make ultralight foam July 29th, 2014

A new way to make microstructured surfaces: Method can produce strong, lightweight materials with specific surface properties July 29th, 2014

Nanomedicine

Zenosense, Inc. July 29th, 2014

Optimum inertial design for self-propulsion: A new study investigates the effects of small but finite inertia on the propulsion of micro and nano-scale swimming machines July 29th, 2014

FEI adds Phase Plate Technology and Titan Halo TEM to its Structural Biology Product Portfolio: New solutions provide the high-quality imaging and contrast necessary to analyze the 3D structure of molecules and molecular complexes July 28th, 2014

New imaging agent provides better picture of the gut July 25th, 2014

Sensors

Production of Toxic Gas Sensor Based on Nanorods July 28th, 2014

Compact Vibration Harvester Power Supply with Highest Efficiency Opens Door to “Fix-and-Forget” Sensor Nodes July 23rd, 2014

Nano-sized Chip "Sniffs Out" Explosives Far Better than Trained Dogs: TAU researcher's groundbreaking sensor detects miniscule concentrations of hazardous materials in the air July 23rd, 2014

Tiny laser sensor heightens bomb detection sensitivity July 19th, 2014

Discoveries

Tough foam from tiny sheets: Rice University lab uses atom-thick materials to make ultralight foam July 29th, 2014

Zenosense, Inc. July 29th, 2014

Optimum inertial design for self-propulsion: A new study investigates the effects of small but finite inertia on the propulsion of micro and nano-scale swimming machines July 29th, 2014

A new way to make microstructured surfaces: Method can produce strong, lightweight materials with specific surface properties July 29th, 2014

Announcements

Tough foam from tiny sheets: Rice University lab uses atom-thick materials to make ultralight foam July 29th, 2014

Zenosense, Inc. July 29th, 2014

Optimum inertial design for self-propulsion: A new study investigates the effects of small but finite inertia on the propulsion of micro and nano-scale swimming machines July 29th, 2014

A new way to make microstructured surfaces: Method can produce strong, lightweight materials with specific surface properties July 29th, 2014

Quantum Dots/Rods

Researchers create quantum dots with single-atom precision June 30th, 2014

New Los Alamos Approach May Be Key to Quantum Dot Solar Cells With Real Gains in Efficiency: Nanoengineering Boosts Carrier Multiplication in Quantum Dots June 19th, 2014

MIPT-based researcher predicts new state of matter June 17th, 2014

Technology using microwave heating may impact electronics manufacture June 10th, 2014

Nanobiotechnology

Harris & Harris Group Invests in Unique NYC Biotech Accelerator July 29th, 2014

Seeing is bead-lieving: Rice University scientists create model 'bead-spring' chains with tunable properties July 28th, 2014

FEI adds Phase Plate Technology and Titan Halo TEM to its Structural Biology Product Portfolio: New solutions provide the high-quality imaging and contrast necessary to analyze the 3D structure of molecules and molecular complexes July 28th, 2014

Scientists Test Nanoparticle "Alarm Clock" to Awaken Immune Systems Put to Sleep by Cancer July 25th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE