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Gizmorama - November 9, 2016

Good Morning,

Nanoparticles are now being used to treat ovarian cancer and may help to supplement the existing treatment methods.

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- Scientists fight cancer with RNA nanoparticles --*

ATLANTA - Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a targeted therapy for treating ovarian cancer using nanoparticles.

In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, scientists used a minute gel pellet of nanohydrogel to carry a payload of RNA into ovarian cancer cells in mice. The study's authors say the approach may help supplement existing treatment methods.

"The dramatic effect we see is the massive reduction or complete eradication of the tumor, when the 'nanohydrogel' treatment is given in combination with existing chemotherapy," researcher John McDonald explained in a press release.

During trials using a mouse model, the nanohydrogel slowed ovarian cancer tumor growth, and made it less resistant to chemotherapy drugs. Scientists say their trick was using the therapeutic short interfering RNA, or siRNA, to target epidermal growth factor receptors, long proteins that are overproduced in aggressive cancers.

"In many cancers, EGFR is overexpressed," McDonald explained. "The problem is that because of this overexpression, many cellular functions, including cell replication and resistance to certain chemotherapy drugs, are dramatically cranked up."

When siRNA was carried into cancer cells, it bound to the cell's RNA to stop it from working, effectively blocking all EGFR functions before chemotherapy drugs were administered. Scientists compared this approach with chemotherapy alone.

"The fact that the EGFR knockdown so dramatically sensitized the cells to standard chemotherapy came as a bit of a surprise," McDonald continued. "When we gave the chemotherapy alone, the response was moderate, but with the addition of the nanoparticles, the tumor was either significantly reduced or completely gone."

Georgia Tech researchers caution further work is needed to determine if their treatment method eradicates all traces of cancer cells, or if future recurrence is possible.

*-- Study: New nanosensors keen to terrorist threats, environmental pollutants --*

MOSCOW - Scientists in Russia have developed a new sensor powered by nanoparticles. Researchers say the new sensor offers groundbreaking sensitivity to environmental pollutants -- and even terrorists threats.

The gas detection technology relies upon binary metal oxide nanocomposites, which offer a few advantages.

First, they offer the main two components necessary for quick and accurate gas detection: a higher density of conductive electrons and an efficient catalyst. Second, they feature a chemisorption center -- a chemical hotspot at the center of the nanocrystals where gas molecules are actively courted and absorbed.

"Choosing the right sensor composition can make a device at least ten times more effective and enable an exceptionally fast response, which is crucial for preventing terrorist attacks," Leonid Trakhtenberg, a professor of molecular chemistry at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, said in a news release.

As detailed in a new paper -- published in the journal Sensors and Actuators B -- the binary metal-oxide is synthesized in the form of nanoparticles. But researchers suggests similarly composed nanotubes could offer the same gas-detection abilities with added benefits.

"We are planning further research into the possibilities for sensor design presented by the multi-component metal oxide nanocomposites incorporating nanofibers," Trakhtenberg added. "The development of new effective sensor compositions will be based on a reasonably balanced approach involving both the experimental tests and the advancement of our theoretical understanding of the sensing mechanisms."


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