Magazine article USA TODAY

Targeting Agent Flags Cells for Surgeons

Magazine article USA TODAY

Targeting Agent Flags Cells for Surgeons

Article excerpt

For all their lethality, cancer cells do not look much different from healthy cells, a simple fact that causes endless pain and suffering. Rnding cancer cells that have spread and threaten to grow into metastatic tumors often is a life-and-death matter. Now, a spinoff from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, called Cellectar Biosciences, is developing molecules that bind to more than 60 types of cancer. Several are being tested in early-stage clinical trials, including one for brain cancer. These custom-made molecules can carry either a "flag" that shines brightly in standard medical scanners or a bit of radiation to kill the targeted cancer cells.

These molecules resemble natural components of cell membranes. Once injected intravenously, they initially are taken up throughout the body. Healthy cells break down these agents for elimination, but cancer cells lack that ability and therefore accumulate these molecules.

This phenomenon was recognized in 1970 and preliminary studies were performed at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where Jamey P. …

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