Washington: Researchers have devised a new molecular sensor that can detect high levels of lactate - a telltale sign of cancer - in individual cells.Cancer cells break down sugars and produce the metabolic acid lactate at a much higher rate than normal cells. This phenomenon signals 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 Cientificos (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 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 Forster Resonance Energy Transfer, or FRET, sensors to measure the concentration and flow of sugars in individual cells with a simple fluorescent colour change," said Alejandro San Martin, lead author of the study.
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