Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Luminous cells from jellyfish could diagnose cancers deep within human body

Date:
November 6, 2010
Source:
Yorkshire Cancer Research
Summary:
Scientists have developed a process that uses the luminous cells from jellyfish to diagnose cancer tumors deep within the human body. The researchers have used an altered form of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) so that it shows up as red or blue, rather than its original green. Color is important in disease diagnosis, as most colors in the spectrum are rapidly absorbed, and tumors deep within the body become invisible.

Red fluorescent cells inside an experimental tumor.
Credit: Image courtesy of Yorkshire Cancer Research

Scientists in Yorkshire have developed a process that uses the luminous cells from jellyfish to diagnose cancers deep within the human body.

The method has been developed at the Yorkshire Cancer Research Laboratory at The University of York and the man who leads the York team, Professor Norman Maitland, believes it will revolutionize the way some cancers are diagnosed.

"Cancers deep within the body are difficult to spot at an early stage, and early diagnosis is critical for the successful treatment of any form of cancer," he said. "What we have developed is a process which involves inserting proteins derived from luminous jellyfish cells into human cancer cells. Then, when we illuminate the tissue, a special camera detects these proteins as they light up, indicating where the tumors are."

The process is an extension of the work done by American chemist Dr. Roger Y. Tsien, who won a Nobel Prize in 2008 for taking luminous cells from a common jellyfish called the crystal jelly and isolating the green fluorescent protein (GFP). The GFP is the substance that allows jellyfish to glow in the dark.

"When we heard about Dr. Tsien's work, we realized how that advance might be useful in the diagnosis of cancer," said Prof. Maitland. "X-Rays, for example, struggle to penetrate well deeply into tissues and bone, so diagnosing dangerous microscopic bone cancer is difficult. Our process should allow earlier diagnosis to take place."

What the Yorkshire Cancer Research team has done is to use an altered form of the protein so that it shows up as red or blue, rather than its original green. Color is important for these tests, as most colors in the spectrum are rapidly absorbed, and tumors deep within the body become invisible. You can try this for yourself by shining a torch light through your hand -- the only color which you can see is red.

In the procedure, viruses containing the proteins are targeted to home in on tiny bundles of cancer cells scattered throughout the body (metastases). Normally, this would not be enough to see the minute tumors, which are too small to be seen by conventional scanning techniques. But the viruses then start to grow, and while doing so make more of the red fluorescent proteins.

Thousands of copies are made in each cancer cell, a process, which is repeated in the surrounding cells, as the virus infection spreads and then stops.

"When a specially developed camera is switched on, the proteins just flare up and you can see where the cancer cells are." said Prof. Maitland, "We call the process 'Virimaging' ."

If the research continues to go according to plan, the method is expected to be ready for clinical trials within five years and could be ready for diagnostic use by clinicians a few years after this. It has to be tested thoroughly, as a failure to detect such small cancers has serious consequences for patients.

However, while the system works in the laboratory, one major hurdle is a shortage of specialized cameras.

Only one company, based in the United States, has so far designed and built a camera system which allows the jellyfish proteins to be seen with the desired resolution deep in the body. The camera costs around half a million pounds, and Prof. Maitland is currently raising the funds to be able to buy one.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yorkshire Cancer Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Yorkshire Cancer Research. "Luminous cells from jellyfish could diagnose cancers deep within human body." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101103083906.htm>.
Yorkshire Cancer Research. (2010, November 6). Luminous cells from jellyfish could diagnose cancers deep within human body. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101103083906.htm
Yorkshire Cancer Research. "Luminous cells from jellyfish could diagnose cancers deep within human body." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101103083906.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins