A Japanese research team developed a fluorescence reagent that is sprayed on suspicious areas during a surgical operation to make cancerous tissues emit light, making it possible to distinguish cancerous tissues from healthy tissues.
The team was led by Yasuteru Urano, professor at the Graduate School of Medicine, the University of Tokyo.
This time, the research team developed a sprayable fluorescence reagent, exploiting the fact that the activity of sugar chain-decomposing enzymes is high in cancer cells. The reagent itself is colorless and transparent and is not fluorescent. But when it reacts with β-galactosidase, which is contained in cancer cells, its structure changes, emitting a strong fluorescent light.
β-galactosidase is a sugar chain-decomposing enzyme whose activity is believed to be strengthened in ovarian cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer cells.