As everyone knows, early diagnosis brings the best chance of fighting cancer. At ETH Zurich, a Swiss technical university, researchers genetically modified skin cells to produce a tattoo that makes itself visible only when the person wearing it has signs of cancer. The technology consists of a “synthetic gene network” that activates the production of melanin pigment when calcium levels rise. Spikes in calcium are related to the growth of some neoplasms, so the technology has the potential to identify the presence of cancer earlier than anything available now.
While it may be anxiety inducing to have a spot on one’s arm that one checks regularly in fear of cancer, the researchers also created the option of only seeing the spot under ultraviolet light, which means that only at the doctor’s office would a person find out what the indicator says.
The technology is in an early stage of development, but was already tested on mice and pig skin, functioning as intended. The lifetime, though, is limited. The researchers at this point believe that such an indicator has a working life of about a year and they’re working on trying to extend it.
Study in Science Translational Medicine: Synthetic biology-based cellular biomedical tattoo for detection of hypercalcemia associated with cancer…