Researchers at the University of Michigan (UM) are developing a pill that makes tumors light up when exposed to infrared light, and the concept has worked in mice.
“It’s actually based on a failed drug,” said Greg Thurber, UM assistant professor of chemical engineering and biomedical engineering, in a news release posted on UM website. Breast cancer awareness “It binds to the target, but it doesn’t do anything, which makes it perfect for imaging.”
The researchers attached a molecule that fluoresces when it is struck with infrared light to this drug. Then, they gave the drug to mice that had breast cancer, and they saw the tumors light up. The targeting molecule has already been shown to make it through the stomach unscathed, and the liver also gives it a pass, so it can travel through the bloodstream.
The plan could also catch cancers that would have gone unnoticed. By providing specific information on the types of molecules on the surface of the tumor cells, physicians can better distinguish a malignant cancer from a benign tumour. [the_ad id=”2061″]Moreover, using a dye delivered orally rather than directly into a vein also helps the safety of screening. Tens of millions of women are screened yearly in the U. S. alone.
According to a research out of Denmark last year, about a one-third of breast cancer patients treated with surgery or chemotherapy have tumours that are starting or so slow-growing that they would never have become life-threatening ailments. The final study has been published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics