Greetings! My name is Antonio Benayas, postdoctoral researcher working at Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, (INRS – Varennes, QC). I am a physicist by background and training, and currently my daily efforts take place between a chemistry lab and another new born cell-imaging lab.
I focus on deploying two powerful allies at the battle line against Breast Cancer, always looking for better and earlier detection of this harmful disease. Who are they, these two “allies” we account for? The first of them it is a nanoparticle: that is, you can align hundreds of thousands of them between two millimeters on your school ruler. That tiny particle could eventually be injected into the patient; travelling through the blood, it finally would reach the tumor(s) to be detected. The nanoparticle is planned it to be our probe (the spy) inside of the body, targeting a breast tumor in the early stages of its development. It is a well-known fact that an earlier detection greatly improves the chances of successful treatment. Moreover, our nanoparticle spy is going to report to us by means of our second mentioned ally: light. The light emitted by the nanoparticle gives us precious information about the location, size, temperature, etc. of the tumor and surrounding area. All this is accomplished in a non-traumatic, barely invasive way.
My current research is tackling two much defined challenges: first, to develop and test nanoparticles, thus achieving higher penetration depth of light into live bodies. Second, I am working on a continuous process to check & improve the biocompatibility of these nanoprobes. I am accomplishing this through an intense international collaboration with biologists, testing our nanoparticles on cancer cells and mice.
Finally, I would like to share with all the BCSC donors, workers and volunteers an update on the most recent specifics of my work:
- I presented at the MULTIFUN International Workshop in Madrid (Spain) last month, -a meeting purely focused on nanoparticles acting against cancer-, my results on bioimaging nanoprobes promising enough to be tested on mice. Besides, new developments on fluorescent nanothermometers to locally monitor temperature (hopefully, soon into animal models) were also shown to the audience there.
- Last December we received a new imaging tool (laser + microscope +spectral detectors) as a core and workhorse of the new cell imaging lab of our group. I am in charge to put that to work, top priority assigned for targeting biomedical applications to be developed there.
I foresee an exciting and productive year ahead, by getting on-site both synthesis, characterization and imaging facility together, working within the multidisciplinary group of research assembled by Professor F. Vetrone. I am looking forward to coming to you soon with more results and progress to report about.
Thank you to BCSC for your trainee support!
– Antonio Benayas Hernández
Eileen Iwanicki BCSC fellow at Vetrone Group (Institut national de la recherche scientifique Centre – Energie Matériaux Télécommunications)