Glowing amino acid lights up growing brain cancer | Science News

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Glowing amino acid lights up growing brain cancer

Uptake of tagged glutamine allows scans to spot tumor changes during treatment

By
2:02pm, February 11, 2015

By injecting the amino acid glutamine that’s been tagged with a tracer compound into patients with brain cancer, scientists have devised a technique that might enable doctors to spot growth of such tumors with high accuracy.

Glutamine and glucose provide nourishment for malignant cells in patients with glioma, a cancer of glial cells. These support cells for neurons become ravenous for both nutrients when cancerous, so spotting their high uptake with brain scans could provide a way to monitor the cancer. But glucose is also taken up widely by normal tissues in the brain. In contrast, glutamine is voraciously gobbled up by several cancers including glioma, researchers report in the Feb. 11 Science Translational Medicine.

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