Horse chestnuts will help doctors spot cancer during screenings, making the overall imaging process more effective, according to a new study.
Researchers revealed that a chemical found in the poisonous horse chestnut called esculin can be used to create a bright and florescent molecule gel to find tumors during MRIs, CT scans and ultrasounds.
The gel improves visibility during these tests, fixing the current problem that makes it difficult to detect a mass due to low light.
These findings offer better chances of detecting cancerous tumors at the earliest stage, which can lead to a faster diagnosis and save lives.
An image shows how a tumor lesion, barely visible without the gel (top) lights up when the horse chestnut extract gel is applied
Researchers from The City College of New York have developed an esculin-derived molecular gel that is radiation responsive.
Esculin is a chemical that naturally occurs in the horse chestnut and is beneficial to circulatory health.
Researcher Dr Jan Grimm said: ‘The possibility of developing a topical application from the gel makes this innovation an attractive potential improvement to current techniques of cancer imaging.’
Grimm added that using a plant-based gel is not only functional but also potentially economical, safe and environmentally friendly.
The light used in cancer imaging is a blue glow that illuminates biological molecules.
However, it is not as optimal as it is low intensity and the blue light is scattered and absorbed in tissues, according to researchers.