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Cells from jellyfish can 'diagnose' cancer

2nd November 2010

Researchers have found that fluorescent cells from jellyfish could be put to use in order to diagnose cancer deep within the body.

cancercell

Scientists from the Yorkshire Cancer Research laboratory at York University have discovered a way to use the green fluorescent protein (GFP) - which makes jellyfish glow in the dark - in order to find cancerous cells.

The GFP can be directed at the cells, which makes them visible when viewed through a special camera.

The head of the research team, Professor Norman Maitland, said he thought it could change the way in which cancers were found.

He said: "Cancers deep within the body are difficult to spot at an early stage, and early diagnosis is critical for the successful treatment of any form of cancer."

"What we have developed is a process which involves inserting proteins derived from luminous jellyfish cells into human cancer cells. Then, when we illuminate the tissue, a special camera detects these proteins as they light up, indicating where the tumours are."

The research follows in the footsteps of the American chemist Dr Roger Y Tsien, who was the recipient of a Nobel Prize in 2008 for the isolation of GFP from jellyfish.

Prof Maitland explained that once his team knew about Dr Tsien's work they thought his advances could help in diagnosing cancer.

 

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