Molecular cancer probes

A new strategy to build molecular probes to visualize, measure, and learn about the activities of protease enzymes on the surface of cancer cells has been developed by US chemical engineers. The probes will have important applications in understanding how cancer metastasizes, or spreads, in the body. "Tumor metastasis is widely regarded as the cause of death for cancer patients," explains team leader Patrick Daugherty of the University of California Santa Barbara. Metastasis is mediated by proteases and so understanding their form and function is critical to understanding cancer more fully. The approach to making the probes is fairly general and might also be used in studying rheumatoid arthritis and perhaps other conditions.