Posted on May 16, 2018, 8 p.m.
Mammograms can be uncomfortable, and doesn’t always provide accurate results, exposing women to harmful X-rays. Scientists claim to have developed a non-invasive disease screening pill which makes cancerous tumors light up when exposed to near-infrared lighting, without the use of radiation, as published in ACS’ journal Molecular Pharmaceutics.
According to the American Cancer Society breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women. Mammograms can provide information regarding lump size and location via X-rays, but does not distinguish between benign and cancerous growths, resulting in 1 in 3 healthy women undergoing unnecessary treatments, exposure, and procedures. Use of low levels of radiation are required to conduct a mammogram, while the risk is said to be low, exposure is exposure, and repeated X-rays can cause health issues. Another method of detection is use of fluorescent probes that can also detect breast tumors which must be given intravenously and pose certain risks of their own. The team keeping all this in mind set out to develop a more accurate and safer technique to be used for detection that was non-invasive.
This imaging pill was developed combining two types of molecules: a dye which has negatively charged sulfate groups attached to it; and one targeting a molecules that binds to proteins on the surface of breast cancer cells. Solubility of near-infrared fluorescent dyes is enhanced by sulfate groups which increases the likelihood of tumor detection. Testing in model animals showed a considerable proportion of imaging agent was absorbed into the bloodstream, binding to cancer cells with very little background noise. According to researchers the pills may lead to a far more accurate, safer, non-invasive way to detect breast cancer which could be modified to detect other diseases in the future.
Materials provided by American Chemical Society.
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Sumit Bhatnagar, Kirti Dhingra Verma, Yongjun Hu, Eshita Khera, Aaron Priluck, David E. Smith, Greg M. Thurber. Oral Administration and Detection of a Near-Infrared Molecular Imaging Agent in an Orthotopic Mouse Model for Breast Cancer Screening. Molecular Pharmaceutics, 2018; 15 (5): 1746 DOI: 10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.7b00994