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Nanomotors ---- Sense Cancer Environment

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Hi friends, just came across the following few days ago, so just sharing it here:

Nanomotors as probes to sense cancer environment
SEPTEMBER 30, 2020

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has used a 3-D tumor model and magnetically driven nanomotors to probe the microenvironment of cancer cells.

The team consists of researchers from the Center for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE) and Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development and Genetics (MRDG).

In their work, published in Angewandte Chemie, the team steered helical nanomotors remotely via an external magnetic field through the tumor model to sense, map and quantify changes in the cellular environment.

The model comprises both healthy and cancer cells embedded within a reconstituted basement membrane matrix, and mimics the breast cancer environment.

The study highlights a new way of targeting cancer cells by manoeuvering nanomotors inside a tumor and waiting for them to localize in the vicinity of the cancerous site.



In the end, we really ended up discovering a physical property of an important biological environment."

The reason why the nanomotors appear to stick to the cancer cells better is their charged ECM.

This may be due to the presence of 2,3-linked sialic acid, a sugar-conjugated molecule which confers a negative charge on the cancer cell environment, the researchers found.

They visualized the distribution of these sugars using fluorescent markers and found that sialic acids were distributed up to 40 micrometers from the cancer cell surface ‒ the same distance until which the nanomotors experienced strong adhesion.



"What came as a beautiful surprise was that within such a milieu, we found that aggressive cancer cells ended up remodeling their surroundings by making them stickier, and richer in specific charged sugars," says Ramray Bhat, Assistant Professor at MRDG and one of the senior authors.

"This charging can potentially be used to target and kill tiny populations of cancer cells hidden among their normal counterparts, for which we are extending these studies to living animals."