"Through such precise monitoring, a physician could evaluate the response to chemotherapy and regularly adjust the dosage so that only the exact amount needed would be administered. This could reduce the time a patient is treated and the serious side effects that occur."
The technique could provide doctors and patients results in a matter of minutes and save the medical industry millions of dollars in testing equipment, said Wei He, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He worked on the project with Low and Cheng.
By directly labeling tumor cells while they are in the bloodstream, some of the costs and problems associated with testing drawn blood samples can be avoided, He said.
"One sample can require five to 10 test tubes during the course of sampling, processing and analysis such as handling, labeling and washing," He said. "In addition, large hospitals can have more than 300 cancer patients in one day. Such a large influx can cause delays in sample processing and delays can affect the results of analysis."
A paper detailing the technology and detection technique was published in the July 10 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In addition to Low, He and Cheng, postdoctoral researcher Haifeng Wang and Lynn C. Hartmann, a professor of oncology and associate director for education of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, co-authored the paper.
The technique uses a fluorescent tumor-specific probe that labels tumor cells in circulation. When hit by a laser, which scans across the diameter of the blood vessel 1,000 times per second, the tumor cells glow and become visible. The in vivo flow detection was performed on a two-photon fluorescence microscope in Cheng's lab. The researchers compared several methods and found two-photon fluorescence
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