Image © 2002 Nature Publishing Group

Seeing cancer in real time? Researchers at University of California's Jonsson Cancer Center in Los Angeles have developed the first viral 'searchlight' that can hunt down prostate metastases, including those too small to appear on conventional detection scans (J.Y. Adams et al., "Visualization of advanced human prostate cancer lesions in living mice by a targeted gene transfer vector and optical imaging," Nature Medicine, 8:891-7, August 2002). The team engineered a disabled adenovirus to 'light up' when it detected prostate cancer cells based on the prostate-specific antigen protein in mice. Using luciferase and a charged-coupled device, the researchers watched as the prostate-targeted virus located prostate cancer cells in primary tumors, as well as distant metastases in the lungs and spines of laboratory mice, making them appear as hot spots. "We can deliver a targeted virus into a lab model and demonstrate that it...

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