Scientists at the University of Michigan (UM) are developing a cancer detection pills that could make tumors light up when exposed to infrared light.
In a news release posted on the University website, Greg Thurber, UM assistant professor of chemical engineering and biomedical engineering said;
“It’s actually based on a failed drug.”
“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.
According to the report published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, the targeting molecule has already been shown to pass through the stomach and the liver undamaged which it able to travel through the bloodstream.
The molecule could also catch cancers that would have gone undetected.
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.
Moreover, using a dye delivered orally rather than directly into a vein also improves the safety of screening.