Innovation That Matters

New research helps scientists better understand pancreatic cancer | Photo source National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

UK scientists use a particle accelerator to better understand pancreatic cancer

Health & Wellbeing

The researchers believe the technology will be key to improving screening and treatment of pancreatic cancer

Spotted: Researchers from the University of Surrey in the UK have enlisted the support of a special particle accelerator facility to support more effective pancreatic cancer research. 

The facility is known as a synchrotron, and it helps scientists to understand the structure of cancer cells. The team used the synchrotron to complete sophisticated examinations of the characteristics of cell structures at a nano and even an atomic scale, allowing them to examine how cells and materials interact with each other.

To better understand pancreatic cancer—which is difficult to treat due to the extremely complex environment of the pancreas—researchers build physical 3D models which mimic the features of cancer tissues. Previous research carried out by the university was successful in developing such structures. Once developed, scientists can then perform tests on the tiny models to better understand pancreatic cancer.

Now, the latest two pieces of research, which were published in the Journal of Materials Research and Technology and Materials Today Advances, provide ways of improving that testing. Ultimately, this will help scientists conduct the best possible research, with the goal of developing better treatments.

This is where the synchotron comes in. The researchers used the synchotron, alongside another technique, to stress test the tiny lab-made structures, measuring how they responded. This will provide insight into how cells interact with each other and with proteins at very small scales.

Other cancer-related treatment innovations spotted by Springwise include a VR map of tumours, and a spider-inspired delivery method for cancer-fighting drugs.

Written By: Katrina Lane

Email: mediarelations@surrey.ac.uk

Website: surrey.ac.uk

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