London: Swedish researchers have developed a new magnetic imaging technique that utilises sugar to assess the malignancy of tumours in cancer patients.
The new imaging technique has been combined with the testing of natural sugar as a replacement for metal in contrast agents.
The results showed that malignant tumours (cancerous cells) show higher sugar consumption than surrounding tissue.
"If sugar replaces metal as a contrast agent in the body, it can also have a positive psychological effect and make patients calmer," said Linda Knutsson, lecturer at the Lund University in Sweden.
Further, sugar-based contrast agents are cheaper than metal-based agents, leading to a reduction in medical care costs.
However, sugar-based contrast agents cannot be used in examinations of diabetic patients who may have cancer, the researchers explained in the study published in the journal Tomography.
The tests were carried out on three people with a brain tumour and four healthy people.
Scientists found that a tumour's properties can be examined by injecting a small amount of sugar into it, and then measuring how much sugar the tumour consumes.
The more sugar the tumour consumes, the more malignant it is, they noticed.