A July 22, 2019 announcement (received via email) features an upcoming talk hosted by the local Café Scientifque community,
Our next café will happen on TUESDAY, JULY 30TH  at 7:30PM in the back room at YAGGER’S DOWNTOWN (433 W Pender). Our speaker for the evening will be DR. VAHID RAEESI.
TARGETING HEAT FOR DISEASE TREATMENT
Vahid is a nanotechnologist specializing in the design and development of functional platforms for disease detection and treatment. He holds a PhD in nano-biomaterials from the University of Toronto during which, he engineered nanoscale heat generators for precise destruction of different cancer types and antibiotic-resistant infections. He pursued this concept during postdoctoral studies under a nanoparticle-aided radiotherapy program for advanced prostate cancer at Grand River Cancer Centre, Waterloo. His research has been published in high profile scientific journals and featured in UofT News, “The Varsity” newspaper and NatureAsia.
We hope to see you there!
As per usual I searched for more information about Dr. Raeesi and his topic. First, I was a little curious as to how someone based in Toronto was recruited for talk in Vancouver but it all became clear after seeing Dr. Raeesi’s LinkedIn profile which lists his current employer as Precision NanoSystems Inc. (PNI). The company has its corporate headquarters here in Vancouver and I’m guessing that employees from other offices come here from time to time.
While I was looking for more information about Dr. Raeesi and his work I found that PNI is part of something called the Nanomedicines Innovation Network (NMIN), which is currently being hosted by the University of British Columbia (UBC; Vancouver, Canada). NMIN’s About page includes a history of the organization (scroll down the About page to Vision and Mission where you will see Two buttons, Fast Facts and History on the right side of your screen) ,
NMIN is based on R&D efforts to develop nanomedicines that began in 1980 at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Funding from UBC Excellence Funds in 2016 allowed UBC-based scientists to establish links with investigators across Canada to develop a national nanomedicines program. This resulted in the successful NMIN application to the federal NCE program.
In 2019 NMIN was awarded five years of funding (2019-2024) from the Government of Canada through the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Program.
NMIN researchers are located at 17 universities across Canada. Team members have contributed to the development of five of the 13 systemically-administered nanomedicines approved by the US FDA, the European EMA and Health Canada to treat human disease.
NMIN researchers, together with Canadian companies Arbutus Biopharma and Acuitas Therapeutics, developed the lipid nanoparticle technology (LNP) incorporated into a gene therapy nanomedicine (Onpattro) that was recently (August 2018) approved by the US FDA to treat an incurable hereditary disease known as hereditary amyloidogenic transthyretin (hATTR) amyloidosis. Onpattro is the first RNAi gene therapy drug to be approved by the US FDA.
The world-class capacity of the network is also illustrated by the strong commercialization record of NMIN researchers. NMIN researchers have co-founded more than 20 companies that now employ more than 500 people across Canada. As a result, Canada has become a leading global hub for the development and commercialization of nanomedicines.
Hope you have a good time at the talk should you be inclined to attend.
The ‘artificial nose’ is not a newcomer to this blog. The most recent post prior to this is a March 15, 2016 piece about Disney using an artificial nose for art conservation. Today’s (Jan. 9, 2016) piece concerns itself with work from Israel and ‘sniffing out’ disease, according to a Dec. 30, 2016 news item in Sputnik News,
A team from the Israel Institute of Technology has developed a device that from a single breath can identify diseases such as multiple forms of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. While the machine is still in the experimental stages, it has a high degree of promise for use in non-invasive diagnoses of serious illnesses.
The international team demonstrated that a medical theory first proposed by the Greek physician Hippocrates some 2400 years ago is true, certain diseases leave a “breathprint” on the exhalations of those afflicted. The researchers created a prototype for a machine that can pick up on those diseases using the outgoing breath of a patient. The machine, called the Na-Nose, tests breath samples for the presence of trace amounts of chemicals that are indicative of 17 different illnesses.
An international team of 56 researchers in five countries has confirmed a hypothesis first proposed by the ancient Greeks – that different diseases are characterized by different “chemical signatures” identifiable in breath samples. …
Diagnostic techniques based on breath samples have been demonstrated in the past, but until now, there has not been scientific proof of the hypothesis that different and unrelated diseases are characterized by distinct chemical breath signatures. And technologies developed to date for this type of diagnosis have been limited to detecting a small number of clinical disorders, without differentiation between unrelated diseases.
The study of more than 1,400 patients included 17 different and unrelated diseases: lung cancer, colorectal cancer, head and neck cancer, ovarian cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, stomach cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, Parkinson’s disease (two types), multiple sclerosis, pulmonary hypertension, preeclampsia and chronic kidney disease. Samples were collected between January 2011 and June 2014 from in 14 departments at 9 medical centers in 5 countries: Israel, France, the USA, Latvia and China.
The researchers tested the chemical composition of the breath samples using an accepted analytical method (mass spectrometry), which enabled accurate quantitative detection of the chemical compounds they contained. 13 chemical components were identified, in different compositions, in all 17 of the diseases.
According to Prof. Haick, “each of these diseases is characterized by a unique fingerprint, meaning a different composition of these 13 chemical components. Just as each of us has a unique fingerprint that distinguishes us from others, each disease has a chemical signature that distinguishes it from other diseases and from a normal state of health. These odor signatures are what enables us to identify the diseases using the technology that we developed.”
With a new technology called “artificially intelligent nanoarray,” developed by Prof. Haick, the researchers were able to corroborate the clinical efficacy of the diagnostic technology. The array enables fast and inexpensive diagnosis and classification of diseases, based on “smelling” the patient’s breath, and using artificial intelligence to analyze the data obtained from the sensors. Some of the sensors are based on layers of gold nanoscale particles and others contain a random network of carbon nanotubes coated with an organic layer for sensing and identification purposes.
The study also assessed the efficiency of the artificially intelligent nanoarray in detecting and classifying various diseases using breath signatures. To verify the reliability of the system, the team also examined the effect of various factors (such as gender, age, smoking habits and geographic location) on the sample composition, and found their effect to be negligible, and without impairment on the array’s sensitivity.
“Each of the sensors responds to a wide range of exhalation components,” explain Prof. Haick and his previous Ph.D student, Dr. Morad Nakhleh, “and integration of the information provides detailed data about the unique breath signatures characteristic of the various diseases. Our system has detected and classified various diseases with an average accuracy of 86%.
This is a new and promising direction for diagnosis and classification of diseases, which is characterized not only by considerable accuracy but also by low cost, low electricity consumption, miniaturization, comfort and the possibility of repeating the test easily.”
“Breath is an excellent raw material for diagnosis,” said Prof. Haick. “It is available without the need for invasive and unpleasant procedures, it’s not dangerous, and you can sample it again and again if necessary.”
Here’s a schematic of the study, which the researchers have made available,
Diagram: A schematic view of the study. Two breath samples were taken from each subject, one was sent for chemical mapping using mass spectrometry, and the other was analyzed in the new system, which produced a clinical diagnosis based on the chemical fingerprint of the breath sample. Courtesy: Tech;nion
There is also a video, which covers much of the same ground as the press release but also includes information about the possible use of the Na-Nose technology in the European Union’s SniffPhone project,
Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,
Diagnosis and Classification of 17 Diseases from 1404 Subjects via Pattern Analysis of Exhaled Molecules by Morad K. Nakhleh, Haitham Amal, Raneen Jeries, Yoav Y. Broza, Manal Aboud, Alaa Gharra, Hodaya Ivgi, Salam Khatib, Shifaa Badarneh, Lior Har-Shai, Lea Glass-Marmor, Izabella Lejbkowicz, Ariel Miller, Samih Badarny, Raz Winer, John Finberg, Sylvia Cohen-Kaminsky, Frédéric Perros, David Montani, Barbara Girerd, Gilles Garcia, Gérald Simonneau, Farid Nakhoul, Shira Baram, Raed Salim, Marwan Hakim, Maayan Gruber, Ohad Ronen, Tal Marshak, Ilana Doweck, Ofer Nativ, Zaher Bahouth, Da-you Shi, Wei Zhang, Qing-ling Hua, Yue-yin Pan, Li Tao, Hu Liu, Amir Karban, Eduard Koifman, Tova Rainis, Roberts Skapars, Armands Sivins, Guntis Ancans, Inta Liepniece-Karele, Ilze Kikuste, Ieva Lasina, Ivars Tolmanis, Douglas Johnson, Stuart Z. Millstone, Jennifer Fulton, John W. Wells, Larry H. Wilf, Marc Humbert, Marcis Leja, Nir Peled, and Hossam Haick. ACS Nano, Article ASAP DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b04930 Publication Date (Web): December 21, 2016
As for SniffPhone, they’re hoping that Na-Nose or something like it will allow them to modify smartphones in a way that will allow diseases to be detected.
I can’t help wondering who will own the data if your smartphone detects a disease. If you think that’s an idle question, here’s an excerpt from Sue Halpern’s Dec. 22, 2016 review of two books (“Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy” by Cathy O’Neil and “Virtual Competition: The Promise and Perils of the Algorithm-Driven Economy” by Ariel Ezrachi and Maurice E. Stucke) for the New York Times Review of Books,
We give our data away. We give it away in drips and drops, not thinking that data brokers will collect it and sell it, let alone that it will be used against us. There are now private, unregulated DNA databases culled, in part, from DNA samples people supply to genealogical websites in pursuit of their ancestry. These samples are available online to be compared with crime scene DNA without a warrant or court order. (Police are also amassing their own DNA databases by swabbing cheeks during routine stops.) In the estimation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this will make it more likely that people will be implicated in crimes they did not commit.
Or consider the data from fitness trackers, like Fitbit. As reported in The Intercept:
During a 2013 FTC panel on “Connected Health and Fitness,” University of Colorado law professor Scott Peppet said, “I can paint an incredibly detailed and rich picture of who you are based on your Fitbit data,” adding, “That data is so high quality that I can do things like price insurance premiums or I could probably evaluate your credit score incredibly accurately.”
Halpern’s piece is well worth reading in its entirety.
The simple test developed by University of Central Florida scientist Qun “Treen” Huo holds the promise of earlier detection of one of the deadliest cancers among men. It would also reduce the number of unnecessary and invasive biopsies stemming from the less precise PSA test that’s now used.
“It’s fantastic,” said Dr. Inoel Rivera, a urologic oncologist at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute, which collaborated with Huo on the recent pilot studies. “It’s a simple test. It’s much better than the test we have right now, which is the PSA, and it’s cost-effective.”
When a cancerous tumor begins to develop, the body mobilizes to produce antibodies. Huo’s test detects that immune response using gold nanoparticles about 10,000 times smaller than a freckle.
When a few drops of blood serum from a finger prick are mixed with the gold nanoparticles, certain cancer biomarkers cling to the surface of the tiny particles, increasing their size and causing them to clump together.
Among researchers, gold nanoparticles are known for their extraordinary efficiency at absorbing and scattering light. Huo and her team at UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center developed a technique known as nanoparticle-enabled dynamic light scattering assay (NanoDLSay) to measure the size of the particles by analyzing the light they throw off. That size reveals whether a patient has prostate cancer and how advanced it may be.
And although it uses gold, the test is cheap. A small bottle of nanoparticles suspended in water costs about $250, and contains enough for about 2,500 tests.
“What’s different and unique about our technique is it’s a very simple process, and the material required for the test is less than $1,” Huo said. “And because it’s low-cost, we’re hoping most people can have this test in their doctor’s office. If we can catch this cancer in its early stages, the impact is going to be big.”
After lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second-leading killer cancer among men, with more than 240,000 new diagnoses and 28,000 deaths every year. The most commonly used screening tool is the PSA, but it produces so many false-positive results – leading to painful biopsies and extreme treatments – that one of its discoverers recently called it “hardly more effective than a coin toss.”
Pilot studies found Huo’s technique is significantly more exact. The test determines with 90 to 95 percent confidence that the result is not false-positive. When it comes to false-negatives, there is 50 percent confidence – not ideal, but still significantly higher than the PSA’s 20 percent – and Huo is working to improve that number.
The results of the pilot studies were published recently in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. Huo is also scheduled to present her findings in June at the TechConnect World Innovation Summit & Expo in suburban Washington, D.C.
Huo’s team is pursuing more extensive clinical validation studies with Florida Hospital and others, including the VA Medical Center Orlando. She hopes to complete major clinical trials and see the test being used by physicians in two to three years.
Huo also is researching her technique’s effectiveness as a screening tool for other tumors.
“Potentially, we could have a universal screening test for cancer,” she said. “Our vision is to develop an array of blood tests for early detection and diagnosis of all major cancer types, and these blood tests are all based on the same technique and same procedure.”
Huo co-founded Nano Discovery Inc., a startup company headquartered in a UCF Business Incubator, to commercialize the new diagnostic test. The company manufacturers a test device specifically for medical research and diagnostic purposes.
Not sure when November became Movember but in keeping with the theme researchers at the University of Alberta have just published their work on developing ‘homing beacon drugs’ that eliminate cancerous cells only while leaving healthy cells to go about their work. From the Nov. 20, 2012 University of Alberta news release by Raquel Maurier (Note: I have removed some links),
A medical researcher with the University of Alberta and his team just published their findings about their work on developing “homing beacon drugs” that kill only cancer cells, not healthy ones, thanks to nanotechnology.
John Lewis, the Sojonky Chair in Prostate Cancer Research with the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, published his findings in the peer-reviewed journal, Nano Letters. He is also an associate professor in the Department of Oncology at the U of A, the director of the Translational Prostate Cancer Research Group and a fellow of the National Institute for Nanotechnology.
Lewis noted chemotherapy goes through the body and kills any cells that are dividing, even healthy ones—which is why cancer patients have immune-system problems, hair loss, nausea and skin problems.
“We are developing smart drugs that determine which are the cancer cells and which aren’t, then selectively kill only the cancer cells. The drugs look for a protein that is only found in cancer cells, not normal cells. This system acts like a homing beacon for tumours.”
These drugs, tested to date in only animal lab models, could be used within a week of cancer diagnoses, predicts Lewis. The drugs would target cancerous cells throughout the body, attacking sneaky cancer cells that have already escaped and grown outside the site of the main tumour.
Lewis isn’t sure when these homing beacon drugs could be available for physicians to use with patients, but hopes his works paves the way for patient-centred therapies.
Catherine Griwkowsky posted a Nov. 20, 2012 article and video about the research on the Edmonton Sun website which features an interview with the lead researcher, Choi-Fong Cho,
Fong Cho, lead researcher on the study published in the peer-reviewed Nano Letters, said the nanoparticles can be used both for imaging and for drug delivery.
“For my purpose, you put in something that binds to your cancer directly to a particle that leads to your cancer and the nanoparticle will light up the cancer,” she said.
“You could also, for example, put drugs on it and deliver the drugs specifically to the tumour without harming the surrounding cells and tissues that causes a lot of side effects.”
The lab is also looking at ways of identifying and stopping metastasis …
In keeping with the Movember theme, here’s John Lewis,
UAlberta medical researcher John Lewis sports a Movember mustache to support prostate cancer awareness and research. Lewis and his team are developing ‘homing beacon drugs’ that can target cancer cells while sparing healthy cells. Their findings could help improve survival rates and quality of life for people undergoing cancer treatment. (downloaded from http://www.news.ualberta.ca/article.aspx?id=4CD917F418E3492F92CCCDDA7B8221640)