The key rule in the fight against cancer is simply formulated: the earlier cancer is detected, the higher the chances of being cured. But this ailment is so insidious that reliable diagnostic methods, except for the constant delivery of tests, have not yet been invented. Although scientists from ETH Zurich recently proposed an interesting idea - an artificial mutant mole, which grows faster than the tumor itself and signals its presence.
If we take the four most common types of cancer: prostate, lung, rectum and mammary glands, they are united by one clear marker - as cancer cells grow in the body, the level of calcium rises. But not so much that it could be easily detected in a laboratory, so scientists have created a construct from genetically modified cells. Their main purpose is to produce a huge amount of melanin, a pigment that makes the skin darker, when there is an excess of calcium.
An implant is implanted into the patient's body in a clearly visible place - for example, the forearm, which is connected to the circulatory system. And when cancer appears in the body, excess calcium leads to the production of melanin and a sharp darkening of the skin around the implant - this is the "signal mole". It becomes noticeable much faster than cancer cells grow, which will greatly help in diagnosis and treatment.
The technology can be adapted to identify other clear biomarkers of diseases, but in the near future, as genetic engineering develops. Plus, it is necessary to resolve the issue of the life of the implant itself, which does not yet reach a year. And also an ethical issue - not everyone likes to walk "spotted", so we need an option with a mole, which will be visible only in a special spectrum of light, on a device in a hospital.