Cancer patients could see if chemotherapy is working in real time

At the moment, people living with cancer must wait until several bouts of chemo are completed to decipher whether tumours are shrinking

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Cancer patients could soon be able to find if their chemotherapy is working and follow the disease in real time as it is cleared from their body, scientists believe.

A new technique may be able to assess how well the body is responding to chemotherapy treatment just 8 hours after treatment is completed.

Currently, people living with cancer must wait until several bouts of chemo are completed to decipher whether tumours are shrinking.

Scientists from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have produced a technique which can alert them to the death of cancer cells from when the drugs begin to work, The Telegraph reported.

This technique involves using a nanoparticle which both delivers the cancer therapy and then glows green when the cancerous cells die. Glow is produced due to enzyme caspase being activated. The technique has the advantage of being able to show whether a tumour is susceptible or resistant to chemotherapy or immunotherapy very quickly.

The research was published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and could mean people living with cancer are not given excess chemotherapy when the cancer cells are not responding to the treatment.

Principal investigator Dr Shiladitya Sengupta, said: “Our long-term goal is to find a way to monitor outcomes very early so that we don’t give a chemotherapy drug to patients who are not responding to it.”

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