Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Molecular probe 'paints' cancer cells in living animals

11.09.2007
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a molecular probe that sets aglow tumor cells within living animals. Their goal is to use the probe to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases.

The probe's main ingredient is a molecule that labels active proteases - protein-destroying enzymes - that run amok in cancerous cells. The molecule is normally invisible to the naked eye but it carries a fluorescent tag that lights up when it binds to the protease. The tag beams out near-infrared light that passes through skin and is detectable with a special camera. The use of the imaging technique in mice is described in a study to be published in the Sept. 9 advance online issue of Nature Chemical Biology.

"Nowadays the detection of cancer, breast cancer for instance, is normally done by mammography, using X-rays - which might actually increase your risk of cancer. We think these probes may ultimately provide a less harmful, noninvasive method of detecting cancer," said the article's lead author Galia Blum, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar in the laboratory of Matthew Bogyo, PhD, assistant professor of pathology.

And that's just for starters.

... more about:
»Active »Bogyo »Molecule »Protease »bind »enzymes

"It's neat. The next generation of our experiments will apply the probes during surgery," said Bogyo, the study's senior author. "It would be nice to 'paint' it on tissues so you could distinguish between tumor and non-tumor."

A key advantage of this enzyme-targeting molecule is its size. About 100 times smaller than other molecular imaging reporters, it can easily slip across the cell membrane and enter living cells. It can also move through the animal quickly, which opens up the possibility of using the technique to light up tumors while surgery is in progress.

"Unlike other enzyme-targeting molecules, it's very specific, sticks to where it binds and does it all very rapidly - in 30 minutes or less," Bogyo said.

And unlike most other molecular probes, this type identifies only active enzymes. "We went one step beyond just telling if the enzymes are there. We can answer the question, 'Are they active"' That's important because an accumulation of inactive enzymes doesn't necessarily indicate disease," Blum said.

Bogyo, Blum and colleagues designed the probe to bind to a subset of a family of proteases called cysteine cathepsins, which are more active in several types of cancer as well as other diseases. Now they are tinkering with the probe's configuration in an effort to create a variant that recognizes the enzymes involved in apoptosis, the process of cell death. This could ultimately allow researchers and doctors to visualize response to chemotherapy in tumors, Bogyo said.

And because other diseases besides cancer involve hyped-up proteases - such as Alzheimer's, arthritis, atherosclerosis and osteoporosis - the approach might be of use in diagnosing and treating them as well.

The work went surprisingly smoothly because of Blum's background in chemistry as well as biology. Using her chemistry skills, she created the probes. Then she switched to biology mode and tested them. When she discovered that an earlier version of the probe worked great in tissue culture but decomposed on contact with mouse blood, she was able to tweak the molecule's structure to survive inside a living animal.

In addition to the potential health-care applications, the approach provides a valuable research tool, the researchers said. "It allows you to see exactly where enzymes are active within living animals," said Bogyo.

The Stanford researchers' ultimate goal is to test it in humans, though they'll complete more testing in animals before requesting permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to conduct a human trial. "Since there are currently no fluorescent imaging agents in use in humans, the approval process is likely to require significantly more preclinical data," Bogyo said.

In preparation, they are working with James Basilion, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University, who is using the probe in surgical procedures in animals. They are now testing the probe's ability to reveal the presence of glioma tumor cells during brain surgery in mice.

"Because glioma tumor tissue looks nearly identical to normal tissue, it's very difficult for surgeons to remove every last bit of it," said Bogyo. "We think this will help."

Rosanne Spector | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.stanford.edu
http://mednews.stanford.edu

Further reports about: Active Bogyo Molecule Protease bind enzymes

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>