Cancer Biology

Using Fluorescent Probe, Determining Presence of Cancer within Minutes

To diagnose the patient for cancer as well as for knowing cancer type and its malignancy, it takes up to two weeks to determine. Researchers at Michigan Technological University by means of a new technology i.e. sugar transporting biosensor hopes to reduce this 2 week time period into minutes.

A collaborative team of chemist built a tiny fluorescent probe that searches for fructose transporter named as GLUT5. The team addresses applications for breast cancer detection and differentiating nonmalignant, pre-malignant and malignant cancer cells.

Facilitative Glucose transporter like GLUT5’s function is to transport nutrient in and out of the cell. When cell’s need for energy increases like during cancer development, the behavior of GLUT5 changes in a manner that GLUT5 become more or less active.

Researchers are much more interested in Fructose transporters like GLUT5 because of the link between fructose uptake and cancer development which also changes as cancer progresses and becomes malignant.

Tanasova and Rao’s team reported in their Chemical Communications paper about the design and validation of the fluorescent probes named as ManCous. This fluorescent probe was used to see the GLUT5 activity in a cell. They also documented the multicolored fluorescence of ManCous that distinguishes GLUT5-rich cells from those deficient in GLUT5. These probes can also compare the GLUT5 and metabolic activity of different cell types, including normal cells and different cancer subtypes.

“We came close to a basic screening of cells’ GLUT composition–one that both detects cancer and distinguishes type,” Tanasova says; adding that while the concept is elegant, developing the technology is not easy. “From basic science to application, there is a lot of transformation that has to happen.”

By better understanding the science behind sugar transporters, the team is more equipped to build technology that captures an accurate and precise GLUT fingerprint of cancerous cells.

“This probe is like a Swiss army knife,” Rao says, explaining that cancer detection is not the only use for the probe. “The more we learn about cancer through these probes, the more opportunities we have to apply them–which means more chances to treat different cancers, hopefully cure them, and at least prevent their spread and maximize drug delivery.”

The team of Researchers explored the fact that the GLUT5 and metabolic of nonmalignant, pre-malignant and malignant breast cancer cells do vary and found that probe tool can help to distinguish between them.

During their research, they found that on incubating cells with ManCous probes for 10 minutes, quantification of GlUT5 and metabolic activity of a cell can be analyzed parallelly. Normal cell and different type of cancer cells showed different fluorescence intensity. With this mind, these probes can become a promising tool for cancer detection and diagnostic.

The collaboration of researchers is ongoing and the next step of this study fructose transporter more deeply so that they can get access to probes targeting other GLUTs.


The BioScientist

The BioScientist is a platform for biological and biomedical thinker which covers the innovative technologies and scientific discoveries in the field of Biosciences.

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