Fluorescent Marker w/ Hand-Held Sensor Can Detect Breast Malignancy – (04-19-01)

Fluorescent Marker w/ Hand-Held Sensor Can Detect Breast Malignancy

We are starting to see many alternatives to mammograms; many of which have a much better false positive rate. Given the high number of false positives with mammograms and the psychological distress associated with this, any alternative that is at least as effective should be welcomed with open arms. However, we should never forget that prevention is much, much better, easier and cheaper than a cure…

(article) A breast cancer detection technique using a conjugated fluorescent marker that targets malignant cells may become a safer, cheaper and more accurate alternative to mammography. “We have come up with a way to detect the function of cancer enzymes as a method of cancer detection,” said Dr. Britton Chance, who is a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “In other words, we are detecting cancer at the molecular level, but with a high discrimination.” Tricarbo-cyanine, encapsulated in a peptide, is injected intravenously and accumulates in breast tissue. Enzymes in malignant cells degrade the peptide, releasing tricarbo-cyanine which fluoresces under an external red light source. The fluorescence can be imaged with a hand-held detector. The technique does not require a radiologist and “has outreach possibilities for undeserved populations of women who can’t get to a clinic or a hospital for an X-ray,” said Dr. Chance at a news conference at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society on Wednesday. So far this approach has been tested in a group of 30 women and is now headed for phase II.

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