A technique using near infrared light enables scientists to look deeper into the inner workings of cells, potentially opening up a new frontier in the fight against cancer and many other diseases, offers a study from University of Central Florida chemists, led by Professor Kevin Belfield.
The technique uses near infrared light and fluorescent dye to take pictures of cells and tumors deep within tissue. The probes specifically target lysosomes, which act as the cells’ thermostats and waste processors. They have been linked to a variety of diseases, including mental illnesses and cancers.
The probes can be adapted to search for certain proteins found in tumors, which means they might also may help doctors diagnose and potentially treat tumors. Current imaging probes work for only a few minutes. They cannot penetrate deep tissue, 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 genetic disorder from which children typically die by age 4.
Belfield’s findings, which include comparisons to the only two existing probes on the market today, are published in this month’s Journal of the American Chemical Society.
SOURCE: University of Central Florida