Scientists have developed a new technology for visualization of what cells are eating, which could help diagnose and treat cancer like cancer.
The team has designed chemical probes that fall when they bind to specific molecules that cells eat, such as glucose.
Researchers used a microscope to watch glucose cells inside live zebra embryos, which are transparent and easy to observe. They found that the technique also worked with human cells growing in the lab.
The team says their approach could easily adapt to other molecules that are important to health and illness.
All cells rely on glucose and other molecules to survive. If the eating habits of a cell change, this may be a warning sign for the disease.
Researchers say that new technology could help detect tiny changes in dietary habits within cells of the body tissue, making it easier to notice the disease.
Physicians can also use monitoring technology as patients respond to treatment by tracking molecules that eat healthy and diseased cells.
Study, published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, funded by Medical Research Scotland, the Council for Biotechnology and Biosciences Research and the European Research Council. Royal Society and Wellcome Trust also provided funds.
Dr. Marc Vendrell, a senior lecturer in biomedical photography at the University of Edinburgh, said: "We have very few methods to measure what cells are eating in order to produce energy, known as cell metabolism, and in live cells by the simple use of a microscope.
"This is a very important advance to understanding the metabolism of the affected cells and we hope to help develop better therapies."
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