Glowing Glucose Complexes Reveal Cancers’ ‘Sweet Tooth’

Glowing Glucose Complexes Reveal Cancers’ ‘Sweet Tooth’

Author: Victoria Barton

Malignant cell growth is strongly dependent on increased glucose uptake and metabolism, which is possibly due to the higher expression levels of glucose transporters (GLUTs) in cancer cells compared to normal cells.

Kenneth Kam-Wing Lo, City University of Hong Kong, and colleagues describe the synthesis and biological evaluation of three luminescent rhenium(I) polypyridine complexes modified with an α-D-glucose moiety. The much higher cellular uptake of the glucose complexes (the glowing grapes in the picture) by cancer cells (devil) compared to normal cells (angels), indicated that the uptake of these glucose complexes is mediated by GLUTs. A range of experimental techniques were also used to investigate their photophysics, biomolecular binding, bacterial staining, and cellular-uptake properties.

These complexes can serve as new imaging reagents and glucose-uptake indicators for mammalian cells.

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