New MRI research reveals cancer cells thrive on processed sugar
Scientists from University College London (UCL) in the U.K. made this discovery after experimenting with a new cancer detection method that involves utilizing a unique form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). After sensitizing an MRI scanner to look specifically for glucose in the body, it was revealed that cancer tumors, which feed off sugar, light up brightly as they contain high amounts of sugar.
“The new technique, called ‘glucose chemical exchange saturation transfer’ (glucoCEST), is based on the fact that tumors consume much more glucose (a type of sugar) than normal, healthy tissues in order to sustain their growth,” explains a recent UCL announcement, noting that tumors appear as “bright images” on MRI scans of mice.
“The method uses an injection of normal sugar and could offer a cheap, safe alternative to existing methods for detecting tumors, which require the injection of radioactive material,” says Dr. Simon Walker-Samuel, lead researcher of the study from the UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging (CABI).