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Researchers say optical imaging can track mesothelioma progression in mice


Researchers at Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania report that they were able to track the progression of pleural mesothelioma cells in laboratory mice using an optical imaging agent.


The chemical agent, called ProSense 680, binds to and illuminates extracellular cysteine protease enzymes, which proliferate in the presence of cancer cells.


In experiments at Penn State's Laboratory of Translational Oncology and Experimental Cancer Therapeutics, researchers from the two universities surgically implanted pleural mesothelioma tumors in live mice. They then injected the animals with Prosense 680, which was developed by VisEn Medical Inc., a Massachusetts company that specializes in molecular imaging technology.


In a study published online late last month by Oncology Reports, the researchers report that the chemical “yielded a robust tumor signal” from the secretion of cathepsin L, a protein encoded by the CTSL1 gene that plays a major role in tumor invasion and metastasis.


Pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive, invariably fatal malignancy that attacks the lining of the lungs. The tumors can be difficult to detect with standard imaging methods, such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Currently, surgical biopsy is considered the most reliable way for clinicians to determine the size of tumor and how fast it is spreading to other parts of the body.


The results of the Penn and Penn State research suggest that optical imaging may be useful as non-invasive way to track the growth and spread of mesothelioma tumors in humans.



About The Author

Mesothelioma Options Help Center staff writer Brian Wallstin is an award-winning freelance journalist based in Concord, N.H. Brian previously worked at the Missourian from 2003-2009 as a columnist and city editor, and served as an assistant professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Prior to that, he worked as a staff reporter at the Houston Press.