Associate Professor of Physics
University of Notre Dame
Atmospheric Pressure Plasma Jets for Bio-medical Applications
Dr. Sylwia Ptasinska leads an interdisciplinary research group which focuses on three main directions: bio-medical applications of atmospheric pressure plasmas, uses of biomolecules in nanotechnology, and understanding DNA damage induced by low energy electrons. As a part of the Harper Cancer Research Institute, her team works on understanding fundamental processes underlying the interactions of atmospheric pressure plasma jets with biological tissues.
The recent results of this collaborative project showed the effectiveness of a nitrogen atmospheric pressure plasma jet for inducing damage to oral cancer cells. By using an immunofluorescence assay, detailed distributions of damaged cells were obtained, indicating possible fast chemical reactions and diffusion process of reactive radicals. A high ratio of cells with double strand breaks obtained in short duration of plasma irradiation supports the potential of plasma cancer therapy. The aims of current studies are to establish selectivity of plasma anti-tumor activity on oral cancer cells compared to healthy oral cells, and to characterize plasma-induced reactive species production in media and cells to identify the mechanism of plasma-induced anti-tumorigenic activity. The long term goal of her team is to ultimately introduce atmospheric pressure plasma technology as a stand-alone treatment or as an adjuvant to current cancer treatments.