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CAMP Annual Report: Page 8

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Clarkson University Team Led By Professor Igor Sokolov Develops a New Means of Diagnosing Cancer

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Professor Igor Sokolov

A Clarkson University team, led by Physics Professor Igor Sokolov, has found that cancer cells can be identified with very high precision by means of a specific "fractal" analysis of images of a cell’s surface at the nanoscale. Fractals are “self-similar” irregular shapes that repeat their pattern. These complex disorderly patterns are typically formed under far-from-equilibrium conditions, or emerge from chaos. This work was published in the top physics journal Physical Review Letters and selected as one of the "Editors’ Suggestions." It can be found at http://prl.aps.org/abstract/PRL/v107/i2/e028101 .

"Cancerous transformations are associated with chaotic disorganization of many processes in a cell," says Sokolov. "It has been known that fractal behavior can occur in chaotic systems. Fractal behavior was indeed found many decades ago in histological cross-sections of tissues, when tissue becomes cancerous. However, the emergence of fractal behavior at the cellular level had not yet been discovered, but we have finally found it. This may shed light on the nature of cancer from a new physics prospective."
This discovery can potentially be applied to cancer diagnostics. One of the problems in cancer detection is its constant variability, mutations. That is one of the main reasons for the difficulty in segregation of cancerous cells by using biochemical labeling methods.

The recent work published by the team in Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics (2012, vol. 63(2), pages 109-116), demonstrates that the alteration of the cell surface happens at the stage when cells become precancerous. This means that the method might be used for early detection of cancer. This is the holy grail of cancer diagnostic because the early detection substantially decreases mortality.

The Clarkson team is preparing a more detailed description of the results. Also Professor Sokolov and Clarkson Biology Professor Craig D. Woodworth, in collaboration with Professor E. Demidenko of Dartmouth Medical School, have submitted a proposal for further study to the National Science Foundation (a submission to the National Institute of Health is underway). Team members include Sokolov, who has appointments in the Departments of Physics and Chemistry and Biomolecular Science; Woodworth, a cervical cancer expert; Maxim Dokukin, a physics postdoctoral fellow; and physics graduate students Ravi M. Gaikwad (now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta) and Ms. Nataliia Guz.

  Novel Polymeric Materials

Professor Sitaraman Krishnan’s research group, in Clarkson’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, specializes in the synthesis of novel polymeric materials, and is studying the thin film and surface properties of these materials. See Figure 1. Current research topics in his group include anti-biofouling polymer coatings, low-friction industrial coatings, stimulus-responsive polysaccharide microparticles for controlled-release oral delivery systems, conjugated polymer photovoltaic devices, and nanostructured organic ion conductors for solar cells and lithium ion batteries.

The research group includes graduate students, Mrs. Lin Wu, Mrs. Janice Lebga, Mr. James Myrick, Ms. Azar Abidnejad, and Mr. Arvind Sreeram, and undergraduate students, Ms. Katherine Purdy, Ms. Yarong Lin, Mr. Phillip Spinosa, and Mr. Nicholas van der Munnik. The group works in collaboration with Professor Dipankar Roy in the Physics Department at Clarkson University, with Professors John McLaughlin and Don Rasmussen in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and with Professor John Moosbrugger in the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering.

Krishnan1 Scanning electron microscopy images acquired by Professor Krishnan’s groups. The image on the right is of the ceramic particles incorporated in the low-friction polymer composite coatings. The image on the left shows monodispersed polymer microgel particles with protein-repellent surface groups.

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Clarkson University Graduate Student Hariprasad Amanapu Wins Award from the Material Research Council

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Clarkson Graduate Student Hariprasad Amanapu

Clarkson University chemical engineering graduate student Hariprasad Amanapu won an award in the summer student poster competition held by the Material Research Council at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, where he was advised by M. Krishnan, research scientist & manager, Colloid & Interface Science - Advanced Planarization. His Ph.D. thesis advisor at Clarkson is Distinguished University Professor / CAMP Director S.V. Babu.

The award was based on the technical content and oral presentation of a talk titled “Interactions of poly (acrylic acid) with silicon nitride surfaces." Amanapu was a summer intern in the Colloid and Interface Science group at the research center this summer. He investigated the influence of various parameters on the surface kinetics of poly (acrylic acid) film formation on silicon nitride surfaces. The fundamental understanding developed during this study will be useful in the formulation of slurries used in advanced semiconductor processing.