Research highlight

Viewing the metabolic profile of a tumor

Nature Medicine

July 8, 2013

A non-invasive technique for detecting the uptake of non-radioactive glucose molecules in tumors can help diagnose cancer types and assess response to therapy in patients, reports a study published this week in Nature Medicine.

Compared to normal tissue, tumors require increased glucose uptake to produce the energy and building blocks needed for cell proliferation.The technique used by Simon Walker-Samuel and colleagues, called glucose chemical exchange saturation transfer (glucoCEST), is highly sensitive for measuring glucose uptake tumor metabolism compared to gold standard techniques and other markers of tumor metabolism such as hypoxia. They used glucoCEST to identify different colorectal tumor types with different malignant features.

Because the technique proved to be as effective as other radioactive techniques, the use of unlabeled glucose may be a cheaper and simpler alternative in the clinic. Also, the authors believe that the increased resolution achieved may also allow identification of intratumor cellular variability, which can influence drug responses during the course of treatment, and the assessment of smaller tumors.

doi: 10.1038/nm.3252

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