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Avancées scientifiques, Recherche animale, Santé

21 - 08 - 2015

Cancer: a mini-sensor shown to work in mice

Monitoring in real time the evolution of a cancerous tumour? It is now possible in mice thanks to a tiny implant developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The device acts as a chemical sensor inside cancerous tissue and communicates wirelessly the information collected to an external drive. These results are encouraging but the efficiency of the sensor still needs to be verified in humans.

  A “chemical spy” implanted inside tumours The researchers are unanimous “cancer research has made incredible progress these last few years and this isn’t about to stop”. The proof: researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have implanted mini-sensors directly into cancerous tumours in mice (see video above). This chemical detector can monitor live the effectiveness of cancer treatments without resorting to recurring inspections (MRI, radiology, biopsies). How does the sensor work?  Tested in mice for several weeks, the device is capable of measuring two variables within a tumour: oxygen concentration and acidity. These two parameters are not random: when the oxygen content decreases, and the acidity increases, the treatment is working on the tumour. The data is collected from the tumours by the sensors and then is transmitted to the scientists through wireless technology. In this experiment, the researchers found that the information recorded by the sensor corresponded to those obtained by conventional techniques such as biopsies or MRI scans. Thus, the results in rodents are very encouraging but the efficiency of the sensor still needs to be validated in humans. Interested in the topic? Watch the web documentary « Recherche sur les cancers : tout s’accélère »