Cancer treatment may be measured differently in the future due to new receptor development.
A team at Boston College synthesised a receptor which highlights the telltale signs of cellular death.
Ultimately, they hope to manufacture an alternative way of detecting if a tumour has shrunk and, subsequently, how effective the administered treatment is.
Assistant professor of chemistry Jianmin Gao said they were searching for an indicator to the first trigger of death of cancer cells, because "that can give you an idea a drug is working much sooner than the current methods of evaluation".
Milk protein was grafted on to a short amino acid chain to create cyclic lactadherin (cLacs). This new molecule was able to bind to the dying tumour cells and researchers believe that the ease of cLac production holds great promise for evaluation methods in patients.
Cancer Research UK estimated that in the UK in 2008 there were 309,500 new incidences of cancer and 156,723 deaths from the illness.