Iranian Researchers Find Early Diagnosis Method for Cancer

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A faculty member of Tehran University announced that Iranian researchers have successfully developed a new diagnostic imaging technique based on magnetic nanoparticles, which will pave the way for early diagnosis of cancer.

Dr. Mohammad Ali Oghabiyan, Tehran University faculty member and a member of the research team added that extant imaging methods which are used to diagnose cancer cannot do that in early stages of the disease.

“Taking advantage of magnetic nanoparticles, nanotechnology has been used to develop a new imaging method for early diagnosis of cancer. The new method can be also used to take pictures of cells which undergo degenerative changes in some brain diseases,” he said.

The researcher noted that cellules usually undergo changes in early stages of cancer and in some cases, those changes are accompanied with genetic changes.

“The changes can be recognized using magnetic nanoparticles as factors creating imaging contrast. If those nanoparticles are combined with living cells, they can be taken to the exact location of tumor or the damaged cell. In this way, imaging of target tissue would become possible in early stages of the disease.

Oghabiyan further noted that particles used in the project are nanoparticles of iron oxide measuring less than 10 nanometers, with a cover which is compatible with human body and can be used in MRI equipment. “The particles are superparamagnetic and very tiny amount of them can produce very clear images. Since those nanoparticles can attach to specialized living cells which characterize some diseases (especially tumors), they can migrate to damaged cells.”

He noted that MRI equipment is capable of using this method for imaging, but they need to synthesize superparamagnetic nanoparticles of iron oxide. Synthesis of particles, chemically treating them, producing special targeted antibodies and biomolecules, and attaching the particles to targeted cells were major steps of the research. The nanoparticles are currently being tested in animals without an immune system.

Oghabiyan stated that the study has been carried out through cooperation of five research centers including Sciences and Technology in Medicine Research Center, Ebn Sina Researchers’ Monoclonal Antibody Research Center, Cancer Research Institute, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Research Center, and Faculty of Metallurgy of Iran University of Science and Technology.

The Special Headquarters of Development of Nanotechnology has announced that the project has been supported as a priority project in pharmaceuticals and cancer treatment section. Details of the research have been already published in Pakistan Biological Sciences magazine in 2008.

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