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Biomedical applications of the cold atmospheric plasma: cell responses Open Access

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Current breakthrough research on cold atmospheric plasma (CAP) demonstrates that CAP has great potential in various areas, including medicine and biology, thus providing a new tool for living tissue treatment. Depending on the configuration the cold plasma sources can be used in the following areas: wound healing, skin diseases, hospital hygiene, sterilization, antifungal treatments, dental care, cosmetics targeted cell/tissue removal, and cancer treatments.This dissertation is focused on the studies of biomedical applications of cold atmospheric plasma jet based on helium flow and resultant cell responses to the cold plasma treatment. The studies were carried out on extra-cellular and intra-cellular levels in vitro. The main practical applications are wound healing and alternative to existing cancer therapy methods, areas of great interest and significant challenges. The CAP jet was built in the Micropropulsion and Nanotechnology Laboratory of Dr. Michael Keidar, as a part of multidisciplinary collaboration with the GW Medical School (Dr. M.A. Stepp) concerned with plasma medicine and bioengineering studies.Normal and cancer cells have two fundamental behavioral properties, proliferation and motility, which can be evaluated through cell migration rates and cell cycle progression. Various microscopic, spectroscopic and flow cytometry techniques were used to characterize cell responses to the cold plasma treatment.It was found that CAP effect on the cells is localized within the area of the treatment (of around ~ 5mm in diameter). The migration rates of the normal skin cells can be reduced up to ~ 40%. However, depending on the cell type the required treatment time is different, thus differential treatment of various cells presented in tissue is possible. The CAP effect on the migration was explained through the changes of the cell surface proteins/integrins. It was also found that normal and cancer cells respond differently to the CAP treatment under the same experimental conditions. CAP is currently being evaluated as a new highly selective alternative addition to existing cancer therapies. It was shown that the increased sensitivity of cancer cells to CAP treatment is caused by differences in the distribution of cancer cells and normal cells within the cell cycle. It was also shown that the expression of γH2A.X (pSer139), an oxidative stress reporter indicating S-phase damage, is enhanced specifically within CAP treated cells in the S phase of the cell cycle together with significant decrease in EdU-signal of DNA- replicating cells.Thus, newly developed CAP technology was proven to be of a great interest for practical applications in the areas of wound healing and cancer treatment. The identification and explanation of the mechanisms by which CAP affects the cells was presented.

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