Food dyes, tattoo ink can be used to detect cancer: Study – BusinessLine

New research carried out by the USC Viterbi Department of Biomedical Engineering has claimed that widely popular colouring agents including tattoo inks and food dyes could help improve the detection of cancer, as per the study published in the journal Biomaterials Science.

The researchers developed new imaging contrast agents using common dyes such as tattoo ink and food dyes to detect cancer.

They stated in their study that when these dyes are attached to nano-particles, they can illuminate cancerous cells inside the body, allowing medical professionals to better differentiate between cancer cells and normal adjacent cells.

Researchers maintained that the detection of cancer is tough without proper imaging agents; contrast materials which when injected into patients, allow for imaging such as MRI and CT to function with better sensitivity and specificity.

This further enables medical professionals to diagnose with accuracy, and for surgeons to identify the exact margins of tumours.

Cristina Zavaleta, lead author of the study, said in a statement: For instance, if the problem is colon cancer, this is detected via endoscopy. But an endoscope is literally just a flashlight on the end of a stick, so it will only give information about the structure of the colon you can see a polyp and know you need to take a biopsy.

But if we could provide imaging tools to help doctors see whether that particular polyp is cancerous or just benign, maybe they dont even need to take it, she noted.

The researchers further explained that the illuminated nano-particles move through a blood vessel to look for cancer. And, when the colouring dyes are used with the nano-particles, more sensitive imaging contrast can be done of the cancerous cells.

To achieve this, the team has discovered a unique source of optical contrasting agents from household colouring dyes.

These optical inks can be attached to cancer-targeting nano-particles to improve cancer detection and localisation.

Zavaleta and the team are considering using common food dyes that could be attached to the nano-particles. This may include the dyes found in colourful candies like Skittles and M&Ms. These dyes already have the approval of the US Food and Drug Administration Department (FDA) for human consumption.

If you encapsulate a bunch of dyes in a nano-particle, youre going to be able to see it better because it is going to be brighter. Its like using a packet of dyes rather than just one single dye, Zavaleta added.

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Food dyes, tattoo ink can be used to detect cancer: Study - BusinessLine

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