IISc scientists develop technique to study cancer cells

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By N. B. Hombal
Bengaluru, Oct 1 |
An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has made a breakthrough in the field of identifying cancer cells by using a 3D tumour model and magnetically-driven nanomotors to probe the microenvironment of these cells.

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

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

“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,” he added.

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

“We believe these findings will find use as targeting strategies in future in-vivo applications, in quantifications of cancer aggressions and as biophysical probes to study the extracellular environment of cancer,” the team concluded in the journal.

“The model comprises both healthy and cancer cells embedded within a reconstituted basement membrane matrix, and mimics the breast cancer environment,” the paper published Angewandete Chemie stated.

While a note released by the IISc claimed that this study also highlights a new way of targeting cancer cells by maneuvering nanomotors inside a tumour and waiting for them to localise in the vicinity of the cancerous site.

“We tried driving the nanomotors toward cancer cells in a tumour model and observed them getting stuck to the matrix near cancer cells, but this was not observed near normal cells,” the co-first author and PhD student at the CeNSE Debayan Dasgupta said.

The IISc note further claimed that the extracellular matrix (ECM) is a complex 3D network of proteins and carbohydrates secreted by living cells into their neighbourhood.

“However, when cancer cells secrete fresh material into the ECM, it disrupts the chemical and physical composition of the native ECM surrounding healthy cells, degrading the local environment.

Therefore, understanding how the cellular microenvironment is altered due to cancer cells and measuring these changes quantitatively could be vital in understanding the progression of cancer,” Dasgupta disclosed.

In the current study, the researchers discovered that as the nanomotors approached the cancer cell membrane, they stuck to the matrix more strongly than they would to normal cells. To measure how strongly the nanomotors bound to the matrix, the team calculated the magnetic field strength required to overcome the adhesive force, and move forward.

“This means that the cancer cells are doing something. So, we did some measurements and discovered that the adhesive force depended on the type of cells, the strength of interaction and also which side of the cell the nanomotor approached,” Associate Professor at CeNSE and one of the senior authors Ambarish Ghosh explained.

“In the end, we really ended up discovering a physical property of an important biological environment,” he said.

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

To counter this adhesive effect, the team coated the nanomotors with Perfluorooctyltriethoxysilane (PFO) which shielded them from the charged environment.

“The coated nanomotors did not stick to the matrix near the cancer cells, whereas the uncoated motors clung to the matrix, confirming the fact that the negatively charged cancer microenvironment interacts with the incoming nanomotors, rendering them immobile,” the paper published Angewandete Chemie read.

Prof. Ghosh further added that they have demonstrated how investigation of maneuverability of the nanomotors can be used to spatially differentiate between cancerous and non-cancerous cell niches that were engineered to coexist within tissue-like environment.

Source: IANS

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How to Apply Coconut Hair Oil : 5 Ways to Getting Nourished, Shiny Strands

How to Apply Coconut Hair Oil : 5 Ways to Getting Nourished, Shiny Strands

There are very few hair care ingredients that are as amazing and trusted as coconut oil. For centuries, coconut oil has been used as a hero ingredient and grandmothers of Indian households swear by it. The buttery, thick oil has managed to make quite an impression among the international fashionistas worried about the health of their hair as well.

Coconut oil brings to you an impressive resume of natural beauty advantages for both the scalp and hair.

If you haven’t yet discovered the wonderful benefits of coating your strands in coconut oil, you are probably wondering why this oil is considered a hair care mainstay. Keep reading to know how exactly coconut oil can nourish your hair and the best ways to apply it for brilliant results.

What is coconut hair oil good for?

How to Apply Coconut Hair Oil
How to Apply Coconut Hair Oil

Here, take a look at some of the reasons that make coconut oil reign supreme in the department of hair care.

  • The oil is super moisturizing for your hair strands. The low molecular weight of coconut oil allows it to easily penetrate the shaft of your hair and get absorbed quickly, much better than other oils.
  • The oil has a high moisture content naturally, and therefore, it is effective in conditioning and moisturizing the strands. The oil doesn’t just sit on top of it.
  • The oil will also help your hair to retain protein because it contains a specific type of fatty acid, known as lauric acid. Nick Stenson, a celebrity hairstylist and Matrix’s artistic director, says that strands hold to proteins better when they are coated in coconut hair oil.

If you need more reasons – coconut hair oil is affordable and found ubiquitously, and does not contain any chemicals.

How to apply coconut hair oil for maximum benefits?

The application of coconut oil to hair entirely depends on how you wish to use it. For instance, a deep conditioning hair mask needs a different application than a split end treatment or detangler.

You’ll find below 5 ways to apply coconut oil.

  1. As a treatment of the scalp

Are you interested in a tension-relieving, relaxing scalp massage? Sounds interesting, right? You can relieve your tensed scalp after a tough day of work by wetting the pads of your fingers with coconut oil. Apply the oil gently onto your scalp and massage it gently for a few minutes. This will help the coconut oil to moisturize your scalp and promote healthy hair growth. A relaxing scalp massage using coconut oil is going to make your hair follicles happy and this will result in speedier and also healthier hair growth.

The reason why scalp massages promote hair growth is because they encourage blood circulation. This helps in delivering your hair follicles all the essential nutrients and also oxygen.

  1. As a hair mask

Coconut oil for hair is known to work wonders when it comes to deep conditioning hair treatments. You can create a DIY at-home hair mask by melting a few tablespoons of the oil over low heat and then transferring the oil to a bowl. Section your hair to properly massage warm coconut oil into the roots of your hair and saturating your strands throughout the tips. After that, use a wide-toothed comb to run through your entire hair so that your hair detangles gently. Then, cover your hair with a warm towel or shower cap, and relax for ten to thirty minutes. You can use your regular or mild shampoo to wash out the oil. Make sure to rinse properly.

Remember not to sleep while you are relaxing. You need to wash out the oil to prevent any build-up.

  1. To define your curls more prominently

Coconut oil is a worthy styler and it can help you look your best. Even if you don’t have the right outfit for the day, your hair is surely going to make heads turn!

A lot of people are partial to wash-and-go or an air-dry. If you are one of them, you can slide the oil through the strands of your hair after taking a shower. The oil will help to define the pattern of your curl while also reducing frizz and moisturizing your hair.

If you want your curls to keep their spring, you can make use of coconut oil in between washes. Your curls will be replenished and have a beautiful shine.

  1. To prevent your hair from tangling or to detangle 

A physical barrier is required for all hair types before detangling the strands, especially for those who have more breakage-prone, drier hair. Coconut oil is a brilliant detangling hair care product that you can use to prevent your hair from breaking. You can apply warm oil or you can use a spray bottle to spritz oil on your hair before detangling.

  1. To treat split ends 

Honestly, you cannot mend split ends forever. There just isn’t a way. You can snip them from time to time, but you cannot say goodbye to them forever. Another way to manage your split end problem is by applying coconut hair oil products. The oil will help to seal the cuticle and make your hair look shinier, healthier, and also less brittle. You might even notice density to your strands, especially if you have been noticing that your hair is tapered toward the bottom and looking thin.

The takeaway

Do you think that your hair can benefit from the use of fatty-rich coconut hair oil? You can give it a try in any one of the 5 ways above. And if anybody was wondering, the oil can also be used straight up on your strands.

However, if you are allergic to coconut in general, you might want to stay away from using this oil. In such cases, applying the oil may result in causing irritation.

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