If the findings of a new study are to be believed, ordinary sugar may be used in imaging techniques to detect cancer. The study, conducted by Lund University in Sweden, suggests that found malignant tumours show higher sugar consumption than surrounding tissue.
“If sugar replaces metal as a contrast agent in the body, it can also have a positive psychological effect and make patients calmer,” said Linda Knutsson, senior lecturer at the university.
A tumour’s properties can be examined by injecting a small amount of sugar into it, and then measuring how much sugar the tumour consumes. The more sugar the tumour consumes, the more malignant it is.
Knutsson is working with a team from Johns Hopkins University in the US, which has developed a new imaging technique for magnetic resonance tomography.
The collaboration has resulted in the new imaging technique being combined with the testing of natural sugar as a replacement for metal in contrast agents. It is the first time a non-synthetic contrast agent has been used in human magnetic resonance tomography examinations, and the results are promising, researchers said. The uptake of sugar is higher in the tumour than in healthy tissue according to the results of tests carried out by researchers.
The tests were carried out on three persons with a brain tumour and four healthy persons. “Metal-based contrast agents cost more than sugar-based agents. Accordingly, this could lead to a reduction in medical care costs,” said Knutsson