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article imageOrdinary sugar used to detect cancer

By Kathleen Blanchard     Jul 7, 2013 in Health
A new and safer way to detect cancer in mice that eliminates potentially dangerous radiation from CT and PET scans and uses ordinary sugar for imaging has been found by London researchers.
The technique, called 'glucose chemical exchange saturation transfer' (glucoCEST) makes use of the fact that cancer cells consume much more glucose than other cells in the body.
The technique, introduced by University College London scientists, uses the same amount of sugar for injection to image tumors as that found in one-half of a chocolate bar.
The researchers ‘sensitized’ MRI machines to recognize sugar, which in turn causes tumors to appear extremely bright. Using sugar also allows for more detailed imaging.
Professor Mark Lythgoe, Director of CABI and a senior author on the study, said in a press release, “In the future, patients could potentially be scanned in local hospitals, rather than being referred to specialist medical centres.”
All that is needed to scan for cancer tumours is an injection of normal sugar, lead researcher Dr Simon Walker-Samuel, from the UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging (CABI) said. "GlucoCEST uses radio waves to magnetically label glucose in the body.”
The paper "Imaging glucose uptake and metabolism in tumors" is published online ahead of print in Nature Medicine, July 7th 2013, is good news for several reasons.
It addresses concerns over radiation exposure that accumulates over a lifetime and suggested to put the public at risk. Until now, there has not been a solution to CT and PET scans and MRIs, all of which are utilized frequently for patients diagnosed with cancer or tumors that are not being treated, but ‘watched’.
The US Food and Drug Administration undertook an initiative in 2010 requesting healthcare facilities use the “…lowest radiation dose that yields an image quality adequate for diagnosis or intervention.”
Another positive from using sugar to detect cancer is that it is safe for children and pregnant women. Scanning for patients undergoing treatment can be performed more often to assess the effectiveness of new cancer therapies, Walker –Samuel adds. Fetal exposure to radiation from diagnostic imaging has been the subject of much concern.
Detailed imaging means less guesswork. PET and CT scans can often yield different results that leave patients wondering if they do or do not have cancer versus other ‘artifact’ that can sometimes be seen with imaging that uses radiation.
Many types of cancer fail to show up on PET scans. Conversely, non-cancerous conditions can appear that resemble cancer. CT scans can also yield indeterminate findings.
Sugar, according to the researchers, makes cancer “light up” with magnetic resonance imaging. The type of sugar the scientists are using to detect cancer is ordinary, unlabeled sugar.
More about Sugar, cancer detection, Mri, university college london, Mark Lythgoe
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