Researchers Use Nanotechnology to Detect Esophageal Cancer Cells

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Researchers from University of Texas (UT) at Arlington developed a new platform for detection and treatment of esophageal cancer using nano-technology.

According to the American Cancer Society esophageal cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer death worldwide and accounts for nearly 16,000 deaths in the United States each year. The five year survival rate is less than 20% as it is often diagnosed at a later stage due to fewer early symptoms. Though there are several detection methods, it is harder to detect the esophageal cancer tumor. An endoscopic probe operates by shining a white light through the throat. However, the tumor is difficult to locate as it is embedded in the normal tissue. The research led by Zui Pan, an associate professor of nursing at UT’s Arlington’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation manufactured polypeptide nanoparticles with near infrared fluorescence for better tissue imaging.  These polypeptide nanoparticles were modified to exhibit tumor targeting properties and then loaded with a chemotherapy drug. The researches call it a precision machine as it makes it easier to see the tumor and carry chemotherapy drug to the site. The injected nanoparticles possess targeting properties and travel through the blood stream to accumulate in the tumor area. As these particles are both biocompatible and biodegradable there is no concern of unanticipated side effects. The research is scheduled to be published in the journal Nature Communications in July.

This nanoparticles based therapy is a key milestone in esophageal cancer research and is potentially transformative to build efforts to advance health and the human condition. The researchers had previously reported that zinc can inhibit the growth of esophageal cancer cells in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal.

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