The San Diego-based biotechnology company AntiCancer, in partnership with scientists at Okayama University in Misasa, Japan, has developed a technology that makes cancer cells fluoresce.
According to an article in the MIT Technology Review, the idea involves infecting cancer cells with a modified cold virus, called OBP-401. This virus can enter all cells, but only replicates in cells that have activated telomerase, an enzyme expressed in cancer cells.
Researchers modified the virus to carry a green fluorescent protein. When injected, the virus becomes active in cells that express telomerase, and permanently integrates into the genome of the cancer cells.
In an interview with the MIT Technology Review, Hisataka Kobayashi, MD, PhD, a scientist in the molecular imaging program at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), said that the advantage of the technology is that it allows for the specific targeting of cancer cells and makes it easier to monitor the cancer over time.