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New cancer diagnostic technique debuts
Date:3/14/2013

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 factora protein that binds to specific DNA sequences to control the flow of genetic information from DNA to mRNAas 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 ATPthe 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.


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Contact: Wolf Frommer
wfrommer@carnegiescience.edu
650-739-4208
Carnegie Institution
Source:Eurekalert

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