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New system finds prostate cancer metastases earlier


Narrator:       This is Science Today. Cancer often becomes most dangerous when it spreads throughout the body in a process called metastasis. UCLA researchers have now developed a way to detect an aggressive, treatment-resistant form of prostate cancer earlier than conventional imaging methods. Study leader Dr. Lily Wu is targeting cancer cells more directly, using a bioluminescent marker to detect genes that are only active in prostate cancer cells.

Wu:               The protein that we express is based on firefly, so all we do is use that gene that produces light in other organisms and connect it to the right switch so that it turns on the right cancer cells. And so that's the engineering part.  The concept is demonstrated that we can actually see it light on in the cancer cells.

Narrator:       Wu says there's still more work to be done before this research can move into the clinical stage.

Wu:                As a principle to me it's quite satisfying that we are making these incremental steps and yet still validating the point that these are good approaches to generate an imaging system.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.