It would appear, if the research of a group of British scientists is correct, that cancer may indeed have the proverbial sweet tooth when it comes to sugar. Based on the knowledge that cancer tumors consume glucose (sugar) at a greater rate than normal cells in order to sustain their growth, these scientists have come up with a breakthrough technique to image and find cancer.
This new technique called “glucose chemical exchange saturation transfer” (GlucoCEST) could provide a safer and simpler alternative to the standard radiation detection techniques currently used to image tumors. The researchers found that by sensitizing an MRI scanner for glucose uptake, the MRI would image the cancer tumors in mice as bright images on the MRI scan. Research has now turned to imaging cancer tumors in human subjects, with hopes that this will lead to a safer and cheaper way to find cancer tumors early on in humans. These tests could be conducted at a local hospital without an MRI scanner as oppose to having to be placed on a waiting list for an appointment at a special radiation center.
GlucoCEST uses a standard MRI scanner and an injection of a small amount of sugar to detect the presence of a tumor. This is a major breakthrough to the alternative method of injecting radioactive material into the patient and special equipment to measure and image the radioactive tumor. Safer, cheaper, will this actually ever see the light of day? Will we soon have a safer way to detect cancer, let hope that this science find acceptance soon.