According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, with more than 250,000 new cases expected in the U.S. in 2018. A mammogram is a screening method that uses low-energy X-rays to detect breast cancer. However, mammograms are uncomfortable for patients and do not always produce accurate results. Although they can uncover suspicious lumps or abnormalities in breast tissue, mammograms cannot distinguish between cancerous and benign growths, and they are not accurate when imaging dense breast tissue.
A team from the Univ. of Michigan has developed an alternative screening method that is more accurate than traditional mammography and does not expose patients to radiation. “The main focus of our research is to develop a method that is accurate, inexpensive, safe, and feasible for screening large numbers of patients,” says Greg Thurber, an assistant professor in the Depts. of Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the Univ. of Michigan. “The ultimate goal is to improve the sensitivity and specificity of breast cancer screening beyond the capabilities of mammography.”
Rather than using radiological imaging, the group wanted to screen for breast cancer using molecular imaging. Other clinical studies have used molecular imaging to detect breast cancer with dyes such as indocyanine green, but these contrast agents must be administered intravenously, which can be painful for patients. Instead, the team wanted to create a method of molecular imaging in which the contrast agent can be administered orally.
“Oral delivery has...
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