Distinguishing tumor cells from normal cells can be a daunting challenge for surgeons during cancer surgeries. Failing to locate and remove all cancerous tissue during the operation often means a recurrence of the disease and another round of invasive surgery.
Chinese scientists have reported they are developing a new technology to aid the precise diagnosis and effective intervention in cancer treatment.
A research team led by Zhang Zhongping from Hefei Institute of Physical Science under Chinese Academy of Sciences has combined spherical nucleic acids with exquisitely engineered molecular beacons, dubbed SNAB technology, to identifying tumor cells from normal cells based on the hallmark of cancer -- the uncontrollable growth.
Their findings were published in the chemistry journal ACSNANO in late March.
The uncontrollable growth of tumor cells needs catalysis of telomerase, a special enzyme. Through catalysis, the SNAB technology can add fluorescent dye into tumor cells and make them luminous with red signals.
The technology has proved its abilities in distinguishing multiple kinds of tumor cells from normal cells and achieves tumor cell detection across multiple platforms, ranging from solution-based assay, to single cell imaging and in vivo solid tumor imaging.
If put into clinical trials, the technology could guide surgeons to precisely locate and remove tumors to help to lower the recurrence and death rate of cancer, according to Zhang.
"We envision the SNAB technology will impact cancer diagnosis, therapeutic response assessment, and image-guided surgery, " Zhang said.