A research study carried out by the Federal Polytechnic of Zurich (ETH) in Basel, could provide important news in the field of tumor prevention thanks to the application of a biomedical tattoo which resembles a mole. After implantation under the skin it can reveal, through heightened pigmentation, even slight changes in the body which are the typical signs of the initial phases of cancer. “It is an incredible step forward,” commented the oncologist Giuseppe Curigliano of the University of Milan, and director of the New Medicine Division of the European Institute of Oncology.
“The system works with the subcutaneous implant of engineered human cells which act like a sensor to monitor calcium in the blood. If the levels remain too high for a long period of time, causing hypercalcemia, a signal cascade is triggered in the cells which leads to the production of a natural pigment, melanin, which then creates the mole.”
This kind of tattoo “will be of great help in monitoring calcium in those 10 to 15% of tumors which cause hypercalcemia,” Curigliano explained. “This problem, which is life-threatening for patients, is caused by metastasis which destroys bone and releases calcium into the blood. Thanks to the biomedical tattoo we will finally be able to identify and treat it before serious symptoms arise like cardiac arrhythmia, kidney failure, and coma.”
photo copyright: ETH
Journalist since 1983, has been dealing with scientific divulgation for years, especially in the fields of medicine and biology. Creator of Sportello Cancro, the site created by corriere.it on oncology, in collaboration with the Umberto Veronesi Foundation. He collaborated with the pages of the Science of Corriere della Sera for several years. He is currently President of the Lugano Science Foundation.