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Cellular Biomedical Tattoo Can ID Hypercalcemia-Linked Cancer

WEDNESDAY, April 18, 2018 -- A cell-based biomedical tattoo can detect hypercalcemia associated with cancer in a murine model, according to an experimental study published in the April 18 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Aizhan Tastanova, from ETH Zurich, and colleagues designed cells containing an ectopically expressed calcium-sensing receptor rewired to a synthetic signaling cascade that activates expression of transgenic tyrosinase; in response to persistently increased blood Ca2+, melanin is produced.

The researchers found that the color change induced by melanin and produced by the biomedical tattoo could be detected with the naked eye and could be quantified optically. In wild-type mice bearing subcutaneously implanted encapsulated engineered cells, the system was validated. Tattoos developed in all animals inoculated with hypercalcemic breast and colon adenocarcinoma cells, while there were no tattoos seen in animals inoculated with normocalcemic tumor cells. Throughout the 38-day experimental period, all tumor-bearing animals remained asymptomatic.

"Although hypercalcemia is also associated with other pathologies, our findings demonstrate that it is possible to detect hypercalcemia associated with cancer in murine models using this cell-based diagnostic strategy," the authors write.

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Posted: April 2018

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