Special dye 'could help identify tiny tumours in the brain'

27 March 2012

A brain scan could soon be able to identify tiny secondary tumours which are currently impossible to detect.

Scientists at Cancer Research UK have developed the potential medical breakthrough with the assistance of a special dye.

Once applied to the body, the dye has the capability to recognise and stick to a molecule called VCAM-1 when experimented on mice.

Detection of this molecule is important, as it is produced in much greater amounts when a person suffers from cancer.

Once the dye has attached itself to the molecules, a MRI scan will be able to take a snapshot of the brain and record how much the tumours have spread.

Dr Julie Sharp, the senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK, noted: "This exciting discovery reveals that a single protein could enable doctors to literally paint a picture with a medical dye to detect cancer that has spread to the brain, at a very early stage, when treatment has a greater chance of being successful."

Researchers at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have also recently discovered a genetic marker which could enhance the battle against breast and ovarian cancers.

Posted by Philip Briggs

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