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Noninvasive Techniques in Brain Tumor Treatment

In This Video

  • Noninvasive techniques such as identifying biomarkers and molecular imaging are an important part of cancer therapy
  • They are useful for indicating whether or not a drug is delivered to the tumor site and effective
  • Researchers have developed secreted luciferase, which could act as a probe to indicate whether or not a drug has reached its target and is working

Noninvasive techniques are an important part of cancer therapy. Methods such as identifying biomarkers and molecular imaging are useful for indicating whether or not a drug is delivered to the tumor and effective. In this video, Bakhos Tannous, PhD, director of the Experimental Therapeutics and Molecular Imaging Lab, discusses research in molecular imaging that investigates how secreted luciferase could act as a probe to indicate the drug's efficacy. 


Another important aspect in cancer therapy in general is to try to noninvasively be able to tell whether or not the specific drug or the specific therapy get to the tumor, and not only gets to the tumor, whether the specific therapy is actually working. One way we do that based on the biomarkers that we could look at in the blood, and the other way is to do what we call molecular imaging—so try to find a probe that would, along with the drug, that would go to the tumor and it lights up the tumor. And not only look if the tumor is there, but will also tell us an idea of whether or not the drug is doing its efficacy. It is hitting its target, and it is working in the context of the tumor in a noninvasive fashion.

We developed this secreted luciferase, exactly how the firefly lights up at night, or in the sea, you see many of the sea species also lighting up. We took this luciferase from the marine copepod, we cloned this luciferase, and we put them into these stem cell that we talked about. Now when these stem cell, we engineer to not only make this luciferase, but they secrete it out, just like how the Gaussia princeps, the copepod does it. Basically, whenever we inject these cells into the mice, the cells secreting this reporter, what we call, and then by just literally assaying the blood for the activity of this reporter we could tell whether or not these cells survived the injection, if they are growing, they are proliferating—so based on the amount of light that comes out of the blood—and also if we can inject the animal with the substrate for this luciferase, we can light up the tumor. In that sense we could say whether or not these cells have achieved or have arrived at their location at the tumor site.

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Learn more about research in the Department of Neurology


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