Surgeons administering cancer treatment may be assisted by a new 'tumour paint', which helps to identify cancer cells.
Scientists at the Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre revealed that the paint lights up cancer cells but not healthy tissue, meaning that it could help experts to remove all cancerous tissue during surgery.
Surgeons currently have to rely on colour, texture and blood supply to distinguish between health and cancerous tissue, but the new technique could one day lead to a vast improvement in cancer treatment.
Dr James Olson, who authored the study in Cancer Research, said that the paint could help to provide better patient outcomes within 18 months.
"My greatest hope is that tumour paint will fundamentally improve cancer therapy," he added.
Commenting on the research, Professor John Griffiths, head of molecular imaging at Cancer Research UK's Cambridge Research Institute, said that the technique could be "very helpful".
However, he warned: "The researchers haven't shown why the 'paint' is specific to brain cancer in mice. They will need to show that it would also work in humans, and they also have to ensure it is not toxic at the necessary doses."