Jan
24
2013

Smelling Cancer

Sniffing Out Cancer: Amherst chemists develop a way to "smell" cancer cells.
Sniffing Out Cancer: Amherst chemists develop a way to "smell" cancer cells.Courtesy Jeremie63
Chemists from the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a way to quickly and accurately detect and identify metastatic cancer cells in living tissue, in much the same way that your nose can detect and identify certain odors.

The smell of a rose, for example, is a unique pattern of molecules, which activates a certain set of receptors in your nose. When these specific receptors are triggered, your brain immediately recognizes it as a rose.

Similarly, each type of cancer has a unique pattern to the proteins that make up its cells. The Amherst chemists just needed a "nose" to recognize these patterns. What they came up with was an array of gold nanoparticle sensors, coupled with green fluorescent proteins (GFP). The researchers took healthy tissue and tumor samples from mice, and trained the nanoparticle-GFP sensors to recognize the bad cells, and for the GFP to fluoresce in the presence of metastatic tissues.

This method is really sensitive to subtle differences, it's quick (can detect cancer cells within minutes), it can differentiate between types of cancers, and is minimally invasive. The researchers haven't tested this method on human tissue samples yet, but it holds some exciting potential.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

cmccarthy's picture
cmccarthy says:

You can learn more about nano at http://www.whatisnano.org/

posted on Mon, 09/09/2013 - 11:01am
richardlambert12345's picture
richardlambert12345 says:

It is good to read about the new innovations about Sniffing Out Cancer and this is very useful for patients suffering due to it. Hope the achievement changes so many lives and I appreciate the people behind it. Good luck.

posted on Thu, 10/10/2013 - 4:38am

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