GLUT5 fluorescent probe fingerprints cancer cells
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IMAGE: The ManCou multicolored fluorescent probe glows different colors and different intensities depending on a cancer cell’s type and malignancy. view more 

Credit: Tanasova, Rao/Michigan Tech

Determining the presence of cancer, as well as its type and malignancy, is a stressful process for patients that can take up to two weeks to get a diagnosis. With a new bit of technology–a sugar-transporting biosensor–researchers at Michigan Technological University hope to reduce that timeframe down to minutes.

A collaborative team of chemists and engineers from Michigan Tech lays the groundwork for this vision in two new papers. In the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal Chemical Communications, the team explains the basic science behind multicolor probes that enable targeting of cancer-relevant fructose transporter, delving into the image-based detection of cancer cells. In the journal Biosensors, the team addresses applications for breast cancer detection and differentiating nonmalignant, pre-malignant and malignant cancer cells.

Two Michigan Tech researchers collaborated on the studies. Marina Tanasova, assistant professor of chemistry, and Smitha Rao, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, turned a 10-minute office meeting into a two-year collaboration built on a tiny fluorescent probe that seeks out the fructose transporter named GLUT5.

Cells need carbohydrates; facilitative glucose transporters

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