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PostPosted: 23 Jan 2016 14:54 
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Dyes which allow tumours to glow so that surgeons can see exactly where cancer lies in the body will be used in operations within a decade, scientists predict. Researchers have shown that it is possible to dye the enzymes produced by cancer cells so that tumours can be spotted, and dealt with more easily. It will mean that surgeons can accurately remove cancerous tissue while leaving healthy areas behind. And it could spell the end of intensive chemotherapy as doctors could be sure they had cleared out all of the cancerous cells.

"It's a field that's up and coming really fast right now," says biochemist Dr Matthew Bogyo, of Stanford University. "Most people have no idea this stuff can be done, its sounds like science fiction, but we're less than a decade away from this becoming standard practice." Under the new technique patients would be connected to an intravenous drip which sends dye molecules into the blood, where they travel to tumours. The surgeon would then insert a small camera into the patient which would show the tumour glowing bright green.

It could then be removed quickly with keyhole surgery. Fluorescence detection is already in use during surgery. Surgeons can use instruments to detect dyes in the blood that make the blood glow and help doctors find blood vessels or detect successful perfusion of tissues during transplant. Dr Bogyo's lab at the Stanford University School of Medicine has been working on chemical agents that can target enzymes that are specifically secreted by cancer cells. "Ideally, we'd like a silver bullet that can light up any lesions that you want to remove," Bogyo says. "The enzymes my lab works on tend to be involved in any kind of inflammatory process, but other agents are more specific, say, markers in prostate cancer." The method would cut the cost of repeat tumour removal operations as most surgery would be successful the first time.

A review of the progress of the technology was published in the journal Chemistry & Biology.

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