Developing early detection and treatment options for cancer

Saroj Kumar is developing techniques to harness infrared light to detect cancer signatures before any physical changes occur, and to improve treatments for breast cancer patients. This and other images are available for use on our Flickr page.

A team of scientists led by University of Saskatchewan researcher Dr. Saroj Kumaris using cutting-edge Canadian Light Source techniques to screen and treat breast cancer at its earliest changes.

Kumar’s work focuses on a type of cells that play an important role in cancer progression known as fibroblasts. What role fibroblasts play, and how specifically they affect cancer’s growth, is unclear, but they could lead to key applications in early cancer detection and treatment.

“By using infrared (Mid-IR beamline) one can detect chemical changes in the very early stages, before there are any morphological changes,” says Kumar. Hopefully, this would make it possible to detect breast cancer well before it started to physically grow or metastatize.

Over the last six months, Kumar and his collaborators have shown the clear advantages of using non-invasive infrared imaging to detect both breast and skin cancers. Because of the brightness of synchrotron light, their technique makes it possible to map chemical information across thousands or millions of cells without altering the body’s cells in any way.

Infrared imaging could not only make it possible to screen for cancer in its infancy, but to predict possible drug treatment response on a patient-by-patient basis.

“Generally there are several chemotherapy drugs, and right now there is no specific tool that says this chemotherapy drug will be efficient for this person but less for that person,” says Kumar. “We could potentially use this method to see person-sensitive responses to the treatment.”

Kumar is a CIHR-THRUST fellow and an initial grant of this project was given by the CLS. Recently, Kumar was awarded with the prestigious Swedish grant “VINNOVA: Mobility for growth” to start as a project leader at Uppsala University, Sweden, in collaboration with the CLS.

About the Canadian Light Source Inc.:

The CLS is the brightest light in Canada—millions of times brighter than even the sun—used by scientists to get incredibly detailed information about the structural and chemical properties of materials at the molecular level, with work ranging from mine tailing remediation to cancer research and cutting-edge materials development.

The CLS has hosted over 2,500 researchers from academic institutions, government, and industry from 10 provinces and 2 territories; delivered over 40,000 experimental shifts; received over 10,000 user visits; and provided a scientific service critical in over 1,500 scientific publications, since beginning operations in 2005. The CLS has over 200 full-time employees.

CLS operations are funded by Canada Foundation for Innovation, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Western Economic Diversification Canada, National Research Council of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Government of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan.

For more information visit the CLS website or contact:

Victoria Martinez
Communications Coordinator 
1 (306) 657-3771 

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