Home > Medical > Cancer > News Updated 08 July 2013 Sugar makes cancer light up in MRI scanners Scientists have developed a new technique using sugar to detect cancer. 0 Pin It Credit: UCL Related Gene-based blood test for colon cancer shows promise Blood tests to detect sexually transmitted cancers New model for gene testing in cancer patients Quiz Cancer: are you at risk? » Ask CyberDoc » Quiz Am I eating to optimise my health? » Subscribe Newsletters » One year of cancer treatment in one minute Girl 'given' HIV to fight her cancer A new technique for detecting cancer by imaging the consumption of sugar with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been unveiled by UCL scientists. The breakthrough could provide a safer and simpler alternative to standard radioactive techniques and enable radiologists to image tumours in greater detail. The new technique, called 'glucose chemical exchange saturation transfer' (glucoCEST), is based on the fact that tumours consume much more glucose (a type of sugar) than normal, healthy tissues in order to sustain their growth. The researchers found that sensitising an MRI scanner to glucose uptake caused tumours to appear as bright images on MRI scans of mice. Cheap, safe alternativeLead researcher Dr Simon Walker-Samuel, from the UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging (CABI) said: "GlucoCEST uses radio waves to magnetically label glucose in the body. This can then be detected in tumours using conventional MRI techniques. The method uses an injection of normal sugar and could offer a cheap, safe alternative to existing methods for detecting tumours, which require the injection of radioactive material." Professor Mark Lythgoe, Director of CABI and a senior author on the study, said: "We can detect cancer using the same sugar content found in half a standard sized chocolate bar. Our research reveals a useful and cost-effective method for imaging cancers using MRI – a standard imaging technology available in many large hospitals." He continued: "In the future, patients could potentially be scanned in local hospitals, rather than being referred to specialist medical centres." The study is published in the journal Nature Medicine and trials are now underway to detect glucose in human cancers. Vulnerable groups can be scanned regularlyAccording to UCL's Professor Xavier Golay, another senior author on the study: "Our cross-disciplinary research could allow vulnerable patient groups such as pregnant women and young children to be scanned more regularly, without the risks associated with a dose of radiation." Dr Walker-Samuel added: "We have developed a new state-of-the-art imaging technique to visualise and map the location of tumours that will hopefully enable us to assess the efficacy of novel cancer therapies." EurekAlert More in Medical Quit smoking after cancer diagnosis to survive More: CancerNews advertisement Get a quote Bestmed - offering you quality healthcare and freedom of choice Momentum - save up to 35% on healthcare Medihelp - quality, affordable medical scheme cover advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Add your comment Thank you, your comment has been submitted. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news Fitness Getting office employees up and moving Medical Type 2 diabetes raises cancer risk Mental health Coping with grief during the holiday season Medical Epilepsy surgery improves lives Medical Quit smoking after cancer diagnosis to survive Medical Gene therapy kills leukaemia cells From our sponsors Your retirement - a healthy mindset So many people, why so alone? You can still enjoy the sweet things in life Take the sugar test, it could save your life. Live healthier Grief » Phases of grief Culture and grief Grieving in holidays How do you deal with grief? There is no right way of coping with death. The way a person grieves depends on the personality of that person and the relationship with the person who has died. Weight loss » Healthy snacking Weight and heart Texting and weight 10 tips to lose weight Need to shed some weight? Get rid of those extra kilos for good with these 10 expert weight loss tips, compiled by Health24's DietDoc, Dr Ingrid van Heerden.