Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have developed groundbreaking imaging technology that could help in the fight against cancer.
The new tool is capable of detecting key cells involved in the development of cancer. Long-term, it is suggested, the technology could improve patient treatment and early diagnoses.
The chemical probe lights up groups of previously unseen immune cells, known as metastasis-associated macrophages. These help cancer cells form metastatic tumours.
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Health practitioners may also be able to track the progress of tumours through the new chemical probe, improving insights into how different types of immune cells influence the development of tumours.
Dr Takanori Kitamura, of the University’s MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, explained: “This technology allows us to see how a specific type of immune cell affects how tumours grow. This advance will be important in improving patient diagnoses.”
The study by Edinburgh researchers has been published in the Angewandte Chemie journal and was funded by the European Commission, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.
Dr Marc Vendrell, Centre for Inflammation Research at the University of Edinburgh, added: “This is an important advance in our abilities to study the role that immune cells play in tumours.
“We hope that this new technology will accelerate the design of better therapies to halt the development of metastasis.”