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Posted at: May 21, 2019, 7:05 AM; last updated: May 21, 2019, 7:05 AM (IST)CAMPUS SCENE IIT MANDI

IIT research may pave way for easy detection of cancer cells

Dipender Manta

Tribune News Service

Mandi, May 20

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mandi, research team has shown how water is distributed inside biological cells using fluorescent nanodots. Their preliminary research indicates that the distribution of water inside normal cells is different from that inside cancerous cells, which, if understood better through future studies, could enable an alternative, easy way of detecting cancer cells.

Their research work was undertaken by a team led by Dr Chayan K Nandi, Associate Professor, School of Basic Sciences, IIT Mandi and was published recently in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C.

The study shows that the human body is composed of trillions of cells with their own specialised functions. Cells have multiple constituents of which water amounts to 80 per cent. Water molecules are close and weakly attached to one another through feeble bonding forces called ‘hydrogen bonds’.

The hydrogen bonds are dynamic and change according to the interactions of water with the surroundings. The subtle changes in intra-cellular water, governing the cellular functionality, may initiate a series of bio-macromolecular dysfunction that can lead to cancer or neurological disorders.

Dr Nandi’s team at IIT Mandi has synthesised a fluorescent nanodot, a material that is in the scale of nanometres – about 80,000 times smaller than the width of human hair. By introducing these nanodots into cells, Dr Nandi and his research team have shown that the hydrogen bonds and hence water contents are different in different parts of the cell. More important is the observation that the hydrogen bonding network is different in cancer and normal cells.

Their work provides the first evidence that the nuclei of cancer cells contain more free water than normal cells.

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