At the University of Utah, researchers are adding new meaning to the term glow in the dark. They've figured out a way to make cancer glow so it can be spotted and removed early.
You can see the cancer is clearly identified because it glows blue and you can enhance it with a light in surgery, and the cancerous tissue glows in red. Surprisingly, the stuff that makes the tumor glow is a derivative of vitamin B12.
"All types of cancers need vitamin B12 to replicate. So tumors take up more vitamin B12 than normal tissue," said Dr. James Grissom, a chemist with the University of Utah.
"We're actually hopeful that with this fluorescent, if we can see the edge and go beyond it - that we can ensure that we can get the whole tumor out, regardless of what the tumor is," said Dr. James McGreevy, a surgeon with the University of Utah.
Of course, it takes hundreds of times the amount of B12 that normal cells take in daily to make the tissue fluorescent, but researchers are very encouraged that this technique could provide a new way for surgeons to seek and destroy cancer.
It's not approved yet by the FDA. They haven't even tried it on humans yet, but researchers are anxious to begin trying this technique on patients with breast cancer.