Doctors in the US say they are developing a new test that can show almost immediately whether chemotherapy is working. Eventually, the researchers hope patients will also be able to watch the disease being cleared from the body.
The team at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston used nanoparticles that both deliver cancer drugs to tumours and then glow green when cancer cells die.
The new test shows oncologists the effectiveness of a chemotherapy and it is hoped it will prevent some patients undergoing unnecessary treatments.
This technique takes advantage of an enzyme called caspase being ‘switched on’ when cancer cells die, and was tested under laboratory conditions on skin cancer and prostate tumours with cancer cells treated with different forms of chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
Scientists saw a big increase in fluorescence in tumours that were susceptible to the drugs. They are now looking at ways of testing the technique in patients.
The findings of the research were published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.