Detection and Localization of Cancer Using Fluorescent Probes

Summary: Learn more about how beacon probes help scientists get closer to a cure for cancer.

A commonly used cytogenetic technique used to detect and localize tumor cells is known as fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). This involves a type of probe known as a molecular beacon probe, and is able to hone in on the location of tumor cells.

This method is non-radioactive and involves labeling molecular markers in order to more clearly detect hybridization. Medical techs seeking cancerous tumor cells look for specific complementary sequences of nucleic acids.

A typical synthetic beacon probe is long and thin, shaped like a hairpin. It is usually no more than 25 oligos long. Fifteen of the 25 nucleotides in a probe complement the desired target DNA or RNA, and the termini of the probe complement each other.

Biomedical researchers in the 1980s made the groundbreaking discovery that fluorescence microscopy can be used to detect a fluorescent probe binding to a specific chromosome.

When probes have a fluorescent label, the light emitted during the process of fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) is visible in real time, ensuring that medical techs can very quickly locate tumor cells and track their metastasis.

While FISH is also occasionally used to identify species, its application in predictive and preventative medicine is very significant. Unusual temporal and spatial patterns of gene expression signify that cells and tissues are being invaded by a cancerous tumor, and FISH makes it easier for medical techs to find the tumor before it can metastasize.

Bio: The Midland Certified Reagent Company is a leader in the manufacture of polynucleotides for research purposes.

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