New infrared light may open new frontier in fighting cancer, Tay Sachs

September 1, 2010

A "game-changing" technique using near infrared light enables scientists to look deeper into the guts of cells, potentially opening up a new frontier in the fights against cancer and many other diseases.

University of Central Florida chemists, led by Professor Kevin Belfield, used near and fluorescent dye to take pictures of cells and tumors deep within tissue. The probes specifically target , which act as cells' thermostats and waste processors and which have been linked to a variety of diseases, including types of mental illnesses and cancers.

The probes can be adapted to search for certain proteins found in tumors, which means they someday may help doctors diagnose and potentially treat tumors.

"This is a game-changer," Belfield said. "Until now, there was no real way to study lysosomes because existing techniques have severe limitations. But the probe we developed is stable, which allows for longer periods of imaging."

Current imaging probes work for only a few minutes. They cannot penetrate , are sensitive to pH levels and have poor water solubility. Belfield's technique gets around those problems by using near infrared light. Once researchers identified the correct light frequency, they took images of lysosomes for hours.

The new approach will allow researchers to see lysosomes at work and to piece together their role in diseases such as cancer and Tay-Sachs, a from which children typically die by age 4.

"We've come up with something that should make a huge difference in finding answers to some very complicated conditions," Belfield said.

Belfield's findings are published in this month's .

Explore further: Catching cancer's spread by watching hemoglobin

Related Stories

Catching cancer's spread by watching hemoglobin

April 30, 2007

In an advance that can potentially assist cancer diagnosis, a new optical technique provides high-resolution, three-dimensional images of blood vessels by taking advantage of the natural multiple-photon-absorbing properties ...

Fluorescent probes light up cancerous tumors

February 16, 2010

Building on his Nobel Prize-winning work creating fluorescent proteins that light up the inner workings of cells, a team of researchers led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Roger Tsien, PhD, professor of pharmacology, ...

Molecular imaging 'probes' pinpoint prostate cancer

June 7, 2010

Molecular imaging has a powerful new weapon in the fight against prostate cancer. Research introduced at SNM's 57th Annual Meeting demonstrates how a novel peptide-targeted imaging agent could help clinicians detect a biological ...

Recommended for you

Findings illuminate animal evolution in protein function

July 27, 2015

Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Richmond researchers recently teamed up to explore the inner workings of cells and shed light on the 400–600 million years of evolution between humans and early animals ...

New polymer able to store energy at higher temperatures

July 30, 2015

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers at the Pennsylvania State University has created a new polymer that is able to store energy at higher temperatures than conventional polymers without breaking down. In their paper published ...

How to look for a few good catalysts

July 30, 2015

Two key physical phenomena take place at the surfaces of materials: catalysis and wetting. A catalyst enhances the rate of chemical reactions; wetting refers to how liquids spread across a surface.

Yarn from slaughterhouse waste

July 29, 2015

ETH researchers have developed a yarn from ordinary gelatine that has good qualities similar to those of merino wool fibers. Now they are working on making the yarn even more water resistant.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.