Jun 19, 2013
SPECTRL measures spatial response of tumor phantoms to nanoparticle-enhanced photothermal therapy in 3D
Scientists in the US have introduced a quantitative tool to help researchers better understand the spatial impact of cancer treatments. The approach uses digital image analysis to measure viability in tissue-representative 3D phantoms. Applications include the evaluation of nanoparticle-enhanced photothermal therapy – an actively researched cancer treatment, which has the potential to selectively treat tumours without resorting to high-energy radiation therapies. However, the usefulness of this therapy is dependent on its ability to damage specific volumes of tissue.
In a recent study, the team has applied the method – known as Spatial Phantom Evaluation of Cellular Thermal Response in Layers (SPECTRL) – to measure the 3D spatial viability response in tissue-like sodium alginate phantoms treated with single-walled carbon nanohorns. Here, SPECTRL provided a detailed assessment of the kill zone (volume in which the percentage of viable cells is below 1%) and the transition zone (volume in which the percentage of viable cells is between 1 and 63%).
To perform the task, the tool digitally processes images of fluorescently stained cells in each phantom taken at varying locations and focal depths, and then identifies the live and dead cells in each image. Using this method, the researchers can then identify changes in size and shape of the kill and transition zones within the phantom resulting from varying durations of laser irradiation combined with carbon nanohorns.
The method could be used to evaluate a wide variety of cancer treatments that are designed to target cancer cells, or produce spatial responses. It could also be used to track cellular migration, or spatially varying cellular responses such as angiogenesis or inflammation in transparent 3D scaffolds.
More information can be found in the journal Nanotechnology.
About the author
This study was conducted by Dr Marissa Nichole Rylander’s Tissue Engineering, Nanotechnology and Cancer Research Laboratory at Virginia Tech. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health. Jon Whitney is a recent PhD graduate from Virginia Tech in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Matthew DeWitt is a PhD student supervised by Dr Marissa Nichole Rylander in the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences at Virginia Tech. Bryce Whited is a PhD graduate under Dr Marissa Nichole Rylander from the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences at Virginia Tech. William Carswell is a recent graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in biosystems engineering. Dr Chris Rylander is an associate professor jointly appointed in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences at Virginia Tech. Dr Marissa Nichole Rylander is an associate professor jointly appointed in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences at Virginia Tech.