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Towards a fundamental understanding of plasma for cancer treatment: A combined experimental and computational study.

Non-thermal plasma is gaining interest in recent years for cancer treatment. The underlying mechanisms are, however, not fully understood. Therefore, in this project we will study the interaction of plasma with cancer cells in vitro, and also perform computer simulations. The experiments will be carried out with a plasma jet, operating in helium with some oxygen and/or nitrogen, at different conditions. The plasma is created between two electrodes, but due to the gas flow, it is blown out of the discharge region and can reach the cancer cells to be treated, located at a distance of several mm. After plasma treatment, we will analyze the cell viability, cell morphology and change in cellular membrane integrity, as well as the expression levels of apoptosis related genes. In parallel we will perform computer simulations at two different levels. First, we will study the plasma chemistry at the different conditions used experimentally, by zero-dimensional reaction kinetics modeling, to reveal the most important (biochemically active) plasma species formed in each case. Second, we will apply united-atom non-reactive molecular dynamics simulations to study the important mechanism of phosphatidylserine flipflop in the cell membrane, known as signal for apoptosis (i.e., programmed cell death) of cancer cells. These simulations will give a better insight in the underlying mechanisms of plasma for cancer treatment, and will thus support the experimental work.
Date:1 Oct 2016 →  30 Sep 2019
Disciplines:Applied mathematics in specific fields, Classical physics, Elementary particle and high energy physics, Physics of gases, plasmas and electric discharges, Other physical sciences, Biophysics, Morphological sciences, Oncology