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Disease Detecting Pill Being Researched By University Of Michigan Professor

May 1, 2018

Sumit Bhatnagar, a PhD student in chemical engineering, maintains samples of cancerous cells for use in the development of a pill that could help screen for breast cancer. Tumors are targeted by a molecule that carries a fluorescent imaging agent in order to make earlier and more accurate breast cancer diagnoses.
Credit Evan Dougherty

A new way of detecting cancerous tumors is being researched by a University of Michigan professor that could someday replace the notoriously uncomfortable mammogram.

89.1 WEMU’S Lisa Barry spoke with University of Michigan biomedical engineering professor Greg Thurber about this new process.


It uses a disease-screening pill that makes tumors light up when exposed to infrared light.

University of Michigan biomedical engineering professor Greg Thurber.
Credit University of Michigan

Thurber lead a team of researchers on the process and says it has been shown to work in research on mice.

He adds that there are several benefits for detecting cancer by this method.

Sumit Bhatnagar, a PhD student in chemical engineering, inspects and analyzes tumor cells used in his research developing a diagnostic screening pill for breast cancer and other diseases under the direction of Greg Thurber, an assistant professor in chemical engineering.
Credit Evan Dougherty

“Three of the main benefits that we’re really focused on are safety, cost, and compliance,” says Thurber.

The pill would contain a fluorescent imaging agent connected to a targeting molecule that binds to cancerous cells in breast tissue, in order to make earlier and more accurate breast cancer diagnoses.
Credit Evan Dougherty

Thurber says molecular imaging provides a more precise way of detecting tumors and determining if they are cancerous or benign.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu