Cold atmospheric plasma (CAP) has shown promise in minimally invasive surgery by selectively treating cancerous cells with little or no damage to healthy cells. The selective destruction of cancerous cells can be used to aid and enhance current cancer treatments and can also be the cure for forms of inoperable cancer. The selective treatmentcan be obtained by using the plasma to induce cell apoptosis, in which the cell self-destructs in a tightly controlledway without causing inflammation in the surrounding tissue. One of the major challenges of this research is that theexact mechanism of plasma induced apoptosis is not well understood. The fellow proposes to test the hypothesis CAPbuilds up electric fields across the cell membrane that cause electroporation for the cancerous but not the healthycell because they have different electrical and physical properties. Electroporation allows for the penetration ofreactive oxygen species (ROS) into the cancerous cell causing apoptosis while leaving the healthy cells intact. Thefellow will develop numerical simulations to allow the study of cell surface electric fields and generation of ROSwill explore the parameter space in which the electroporation and therefore apoptosis will be induced only for thecancerous cells. During his secondment the Fellow will perform experiments by applying CAP onto two Breast celllines: MDA-MB-231 (cancerous) MCF-12F (healthy) and will use flow cytometry to measure electroporation andapoptosis. The results of this research will elucidate how CAP interacts with tissue and under what conditions it causesapoptosis. This will allow us to get closer to an actual medical device utilizing CAP to treat cancer on patients.
The CAP-CANCER project started in 1/9/2016, and is scheduled to run for 24 months. It has received funding from the European Union’s H2020-MSCA-IF-2015, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships under the agreement No. 703497.