A New Spray Makes Hard-To-Spot Cancer Cells Visibly Glow

A new sprayable reagent has been developed by Japanese researchers that makes small tumors, typically missed by CT scans, visibly glow within minutes of being applied—making them easier to spot and remove during surgery.

The magic ingredient in the spray is a green dye called gGlu-HMRG which glows after reacting with an enzyme in the membrane of some cancer cells. So while after being applied it takes a few minutes for the cells to start glowing while the chemical makes its way inside, it's still considerably faster than traditional detection methods which can actually miss carcinoma smaller than one millimeter in size. And it's ease of use would allow it to be used in the operating room, ensuring surgeons don't miss any residual tumors during surgery which can continue to spread.

Developed by Professor Yasuteru Urano of the University of Tokyo, and Hisataka Kobayashi, the chief scientist at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the reagent has so far been tested on ovarian cancer cells that have been transplanted into laboratory mice. While it's not 100 percent effective for spotting every single cancer cell yet, the researchers are confident the spray can be with further development, and eventually usable on other types of cancers like liver, colon, and uterine. [Nature via Fareastgizmos]