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Sensors promising for diagnosis, treatment of cancer

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Chilean researchers have developed sensor technology that holds promise for improving cancer diagnosis efforts, Researchers in European believe that sensors can eventually aid in treating the disease.

For the former, researchers at Chile’s Centro de Estudios Científicos created a molecular sensor with the ability to detect lactate levels in individual cells in real time. Lactate, according to the researchers, can be used to determine metabolism processes in such cells, and the researchers found that tumor cells produced lactate three to five times faster than non-tumor cells.

“The high rate of lactate production in the cancer cell is the hallmark of cancer metabolism,” said Wolf Frommer of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who collaborated on the research, in asaid. “This result paves the way for understanding the nuances of cancer metabolism in different types of cancer and for developing new techniques for combating this scourge.”

Project leader Felipe Barros added that standard methods to measure lactate are based on reactions among enzymes, which generally require a large number of cells in complex cell mixtures. “This makes it difficult or even impossible to see how different types of cells are acting when cancerous,” he said in the announcement. “Our new technique lets us measure the metabolism of individual cells, giving us a new window for understanding how different cancers operate. An important advantage of this technique is that it may be used in high-throughput format, as required for drug development.”

Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, both in the U.K., are working to develop miniature chips to be implanted into the tumors.The chips, which will be roughly the size of an eyelash, and chemotherapy treatments as needed.

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