Glioblastoma multiforme is the most common type of brain tumour and, sadly, one of the most deadly. Because of its location inside the skull, behind the blood-brain barrier, it can be hard for doctors to accurately monitor the cancer and tell whether it’s responding to treatment. But glioblastoma cells aren’t completely elusive – they release telltale ‘bubbles’ from their surface, known as microvesicles (here seen by scanning electron microscopy, magnified more than 2,000 times). Researchers have developed a sensitive nanotechnology-based system to detect these bubbles, and distinguish them from microvesicles produced by healthy cells. Looking for tumour cell microvesicles in the blood of people with glioblastoma could form the basis of a test to monitor how quickly their cancer is growing and whether it has been successfully treated. The team hopes their technique could be adapted to detect bubbles released by other cancers and infectious diseases too.
Written by Kat Arney
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