Research at The City College of New York shows that cancer imaging can be simplified by a photonic process utilizing molecules derived from horse chestnuts.
Led by George John, professor in City College’s Division of Science, in collaboration with Jan Grimm, a physician scientist at Sloan Kettering Institute who is also affiliated with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College, the team of researchers has developed a radiation responsive esculin-derived molecular gel, that is both scintillating and fluorescent, to enhance the optical photon output in image mapping for cancer imaging.
Esculin, or Æsculin, is a coumarin glucoside that naturally occurs in the horse chestnut, a plant extract. It is beneficial to circulatory health.
A challenge currently in cancer imaging is that optical imaging of radiotracers through Cerenkov light often produces light that is typically low in intensity and blue-weighted (greatly scattered and absorbed in vivo). Increasing or shifting the photon flux improves detection.
“Tailoring biobased materials to synthesize thixotropic thermo-reversible hydrogels offers image-aiding systems [that] are not only functional but also potentially economical, safe, and environmentally friendly,” says John.
“The possibility of developing a topical application from the gel makes this innovation an attractive potential improvement to current techniques of cancer imaging with Cerenkov light,” adds Grimm.