Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New cancer diagnostic technique debuts

Date:
March 14, 2013
Source:
Carnegie Institution
Summary:
Cancer cells break down sugars and produce the metabolic acid lactate at a much higher rate than normal cells. This phenomenon provides a telltale sign that cancer is present, via diagnostics such as PET scans, and possibly offers an avenue for novel cancer therapies. Now medical researchers have devised a molecular sensor that can detect levels of lactate in individual cells in real time.

Cancer cells break down sugars and produce the metabolic acid lactate at a much higher rate than normal cells. This phenomenon provides a telltale sign that cancer is present, via diagnostics such as PET scans, and possibly offers an avenue for novel cancer therapies. Now a team of Chilean researchers at The Centro de Estudios Científicos (CECs), with the collaboration of Carnegie's Wolf Frommer, has devised a molecular sensor that can detect levels of lactate in individual cells in real time.

Prior to this advance, no other measurement method could non-invasively detect lactate in real time at the single-cell level. The work, published in the open access journal PLOS ONE, is a boon to understanding how different types of cells go awry when cancer hits.

"Over the last decade, the Frommer lab at Carnegie has pioneered the use of Förster Resonance Energy Transfer, or FRET, sensors to measure the concentration and flow of sugars in individual cells with a simple fluorescent color change. This has started to revolutionize the field of cell metabolism," explained CECs researcher Alejandro San Martín, lead author of the article. "Using the same underlying physical principle and inspired by the sugar sensors, we have now invented a new type of sensor based on a transcriptional factor. A molecule that normally helps bacteria to adapt to its environment has now been tricked into measuring lactate for us."

Lactate shuttles between cells and inside cells as part of the normal metabolic process. But it is also involved in diseases that include inflammation, inadequate oxygen supply to cells, restricted blood supply to tissues, and neurological degradation, in addition to cancer.

"Standard methods to measure lactate are based on reactions among enzymes, which require a large number of cells in complex cell mixtures," explained Felipe Barros, leader of the project. "This makes it difficult or even impossible to see how different types of cells are acting when cancerous. 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."

This work used a bacterial transcription factor -- a protein that binds to specific DNA sequences to control the flow of genetic information from DNA to mRNA -- as a means to produce and insert the lactate sensor. They turned the sensor on in three cell types: normal brain cells, tumor brain cells, and human embryonic cells. The sensor was able to quantify very low concentrations of lactate, providing an unprecedented sensitivity and range of detection.

The researchers found that the tumor cells produced lactate 3-5 times faster than the non-tumor cells. "The high rate of lactate production in the cancer cell is the hallmark of cancer metabolism," remarked Frommer. "This result paves the way for understanding the nuances of cancer metabolism in different types of cancer and for developing new techniques for combatting this scourge."

In addition, the biosensors promise to solve an old controversy. While some studies have suggested the glucose provides the fuel for the brain, recent research has provided evidence that lactate feeds energy metabolism in neurons. Oxidation of lactate can be used to produce large amount of ATP -- the coenzyme that carries energy in cells. The Barros and Frommer teams are excited about the solving this enigma with the use of their new sensors, together with the previously developed glucose sensors. Recently, a collaboration between the two labs led to the patenting of the first method capable of measuring the rate of glucose consumption in single cells.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Alejandro San Martín, Sebastián Ceballo, Iván Ruminot, Rodrigo Lerchundi, Wolf B. Frommer, Luis Felipe Barros. A Genetically Encoded FRET Lactate Sensor and Its Use To Detect the Warburg Effect in Single Cancer Cells. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (2): e57712 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057712

Cite This Page:

Carnegie Institution. "New cancer diagnostic technique debuts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130314124613.htm>.
Carnegie Institution. (2013, March 14). New cancer diagnostic technique debuts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130314124613.htm
Carnegie Institution. "New cancer diagnostic technique debuts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130314124613.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Cases Keep Coming for Monrovia's Island Hospital

Ebola Cases Keep Coming for Monrovia's Island Hospital

AFP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A look inside Monrovia's Island Hospital, a key treatment centre in the fight against Ebola in Liberia's capital city. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Puts Stress on Liberian Health Workers

Ebola Puts Stress on Liberian Health Workers

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — The Ebola outbreak is putting stress on first responders in Liberia. Ambulance drivers say they are struggling with chronic shortages of safety equipment and patients who don't want to go to the hospital. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Reassure Public Ebola Patient Won't Cause Outbreak

Doctors Reassure Public Ebola Patient Won't Cause Outbreak

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — After the announcement that the first U.S. patient had been diagnosed with Ebola, doctors were quick to say a U.S. outbreak is highly unlikely. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
TX Hospital Confirms Patient Admitted With Ebola

TX Hospital Confirms Patient Admitted With Ebola

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) — Medical officials from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital confirm they are treating a patient with the Ebola virus, the first case found in the US. (Sept. 30 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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