Wednesday 29 March 2017

Jellyfish cells 'diagnose cancer'

Dr Fiona Frame examines prostate cancer cells which have been infected with a virus containing the jellyfish green fluorescent gene
Dr Fiona Frame examines prostate cancer cells which have been infected with a virus containing the jellyfish green fluorescent gene

Luminous cells from jellyfish can be used to diagnose cancers deep inside the body, scientists have said.

The process uses the green fluorescent protein (GFP) which enables jellyfish to glow in the dark.

Researchers have found it can be targeted at cancer cells, allowing them to be spotted using a special camera.

A team from the Yorkshire Cancer Research Laboratory at York University has developed the procedure and its leader, Professor Norman Maitland, believes it will revolutionise the way some cancers are diagnosed.

Prof Maitland 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 process is an extension of the work done by American chemist Dr Roger Y Tsien who won a Nobel Prize in 2008 for taking luminous cells from the crystal jelly species of jellyfish and isolating the GFP.

A United States company is the only one which has so far designed and built a camera system which allows the jellyfish proteins to be seen with the desired resolution so deep in the body.

This kit costs around £500,000 and Prof Maitland said he is currently raising the funds to buy one.

Press Association

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