Glowing Cancer Cells

My friend Emily Low Johnson’s father, Dr. Philip S. Low, is a cancer researcher at Purdue University. His team has come up with a new way to see cancer cells or tumors through the development of a flourescent dye that makes the cancer cells “glow.”  The cells are tricked into absorbing the flourescent dye via folic acid, which cancer cells need to live.  Dr. Low was interviewed on CBS and ABC last weekend.

CBS Evening News Report (09/18/2011)

ABC News Report (9/19/2011)

While this new breakthrough is very promising, it is not FDA-approved yet and so far has only been tried in Holland in twenty successful ovarian cancer surgeries.  According to Dr. Low, the new tumor imaging methodology will begin clinical trials in the USA within two months(at Mayo Clinic), but the initial tests will focus on ovarian cancer.  In the future, imaging trials are planned for most other cancers.

I do not know if it could ever be used for the “MOAS” (cytoreduction and HIPEC surgery), one of the few ways to treat appendiceal cancers. Yet my imagination is jumping ahead and thinking how helpful it would for the surgeons when they are cleaning out all visible tumors from the peritoneal cavity. Removal of all visible tumor is imperative for HIPEC to work so just imagine if the cancer cells were glowing and the surgeon could find them with more ease!

Let’s hope this technique is approved someday and proven to work for the removal of many types of cancer tumors including appendiceal cancers. There is so much good stuff coming down the road…kudos to Dr. Low and his team!

By the way, Emily and her partners have a business, Hopscotch Road, where they refinish vintage furniture and give it new life with a modern twist. Check out their very unique items!

One thought on “Glowing Cancer Cells

  1. Ivanna, thanks for the info about glowing cancer cells! Very clever technique tricking the cancer cells into taking up the fluorescent dye using folic acid, which the cancer cells need to stay alive! Now all they have to do is attach some boron atoms to the dye (somehow!) so that the evil cancer cells will not only be fooled into taking up the dye that will betray their presence, but will also have an increased concentration of boron in them. Then the patient can be exposed to a beam of gentle thermal neutrons that will be absorbed readily by the boron nuclei, transmuting the boron nuclei into highly localized alpha particles that will very selectively irradiate just the cancer cells, killing them off with extreme prejudice! It’s known as brachytherapy and it works like a charm!

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