Pill for Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Maria Cohut published an article giving us information on the new innovative pill that may aid in the diagnosis of breast cancer. Needless procedures are performed on many women with benign breast modules or slow-progressing cancer because the current diagnostic methods cannot make the difference between harmful and benign tumors. Now there may be a new pill that could change all of this.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for the year 2014, reported that 236,968 women and 2,141 men in the U.S. received a great cancer diagnosis. It is still difficult to distinguish between malignant and benign tumors or the difference between fast-progressing forms of cancer that are slow to develop and will not severely affect someone during their lifetime.

Dense tissue can also get in the way sometimes of locating and diagnosing existing tumors that may remain undetected for a long time. Not having clarity in the initial diagnosis can lead health professions to refer patients for further procedures that can be invasive and possibly unnecessary. If we only had a way to diagnose breast cancer that would eliminate the stress and cost of treatment that might not benefit the patient, wouldn’t that be ideal?

University of Michigan researchers in Ann Arbor have now developed a pill that acts as a molecular imaging agent once ingested, and allows specialists to obtain more precise information on location and type of the tumors.

The diagnosis and treatment of cancers that women would never die from are costing overspending of 4 billion dollars a year, according to researcher Greg Thurber. If they can do molecular imaging, they can see which of the tumors need to be treated. So far they have conducted a study on mice, yielding promising results, that have been published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics.

Thurber and his colleagues developed the pill that carries a special dyeing agent to mark tumors by responding to a molecule that is present in tumor cells, the blood vessels that fuel tumor growth and inflamed tissue. This dye becomes visible when under infrared light and can then easily be penetrated and the body scanned without exposing them to some of the risks inherent in X-ray, such as DNA mutation. This marker reveals, with accuracy, where tumors are located and provide information on the type of tumor by rendering visible the different molecules found on the tumor cells, once absorbed into the body.

This makes it possible for the physician to differentiate between malign and benign nodules and assess the type of cancer tumor. They also noted that an infrared dye-carrying pill would be a safer diagnostic tool than those similar, injectable infrared dyes. There are some patients that can have severe adverse reactions to these injectable agents.

Other research teams have developed pills to deliver macromolecules, but they have proven inefficient in clinical trials. Challenges still stand in the way of designing a medium that effectively bypasses the body’s gateways to the bloodstream or to get the agents where they are needed. It needs to be small and greasy, but an imaging agent needs to be larger and water-soluble. This pill is actually based on a failed drug. The pill worked as expected with a mouse model by delivering the infrared dye to the relevant tumor sites and marking the nodules. The macromolecule in the pill survived the acidic environment of the stomach and was not flushed out by the liver, therefore it eventually allowed it to pass into the bloodstream and complete its intended work.

Dr Fredda Branyon