Glowing Tumors Guide Surgeons | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 89 Issue 48 | p. 35 | Concentrates
Issue Date: November 28, 2011

Glowing Tumors Guide Surgeons

Researchers develop sprayable indicator for lighting up cancer cells
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Analytical SCENE, Biological SCENE
Keywords: optically guided surgery, fluorescence imaging, ovarian cancer, glutamyltranspeptidase
Credit: Sci. Transl. Med.
Scheme shows how a new fluorescent indicator, a caged gamma-glutaml hydroxymethyl rhodamine green compound, can be used to light up cancer tumors
Credit: Sci. Transl. Med.
In this video, fluorescent indicator is applied to the abdominal cavity of a mouse with ovarian cancer while Hisataka Kobayashi describes the guided removal of tumors.
Credit: Yasuteru Urano

Doctors might one day remove cancerous tumors with the help of a spray-on fluorescent indicator, according to a report (Sci. Transl. Med., DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3002823). Within minutes of being sprayed, cancer cells in suspect tissue would emit fluorescent light, guiding surgeons to the locations of malignancies. Although other fluorescent probes are in development for surgery, the new indicator acts more quickly and can be applied on the spot. Hisataka Kobayashi of the U.S.’s National Cancer Institute, Yasuteru Urano of Japan’s University of Tokyo, and coworkers demonstrated that their indicator, a caged γ-glutamyl hydroxy­methyl rhodamine green compound, lit up tumors in mice with ovarian cancer within 90 seconds of being applied. The probe is nonfluorescent until it comes into contact with cancer cells, many of which overexpress the enzyme γ-glutamyl­trans­peptidase on their surfaces. The enzyme uncages the indicator by cleaving the glutamate group, causing it to fluoresce.

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