Fluorescent Dye Could Help Surgeons Remove All of Tumors
A team of scientists have developed a dye that can “light up” the cells of a cancer tumor, an innovation that could make it easier for surgeons to remove all of the cancerous tissue on their first try.
Current imaging methods such as MRI and CT scans do not always detect all the cancerous tissue at the margins of a tumor, so sometimes harmful cells can be left behind after cancer surgery. Then, patients have to go back for more surgery or undergo radiation therapy.
The new imaging technology – which uses an injectable blue liquid called LUM015 – was developed by Duke University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Lumicell Inc. Researchers report that a probe was able to identify cancerous tissue in live mice with sarcoma and in 15 patients undergoing surgery for soft-tissue sarcoma or breast cancer, without adverse effects.
When they tested the LUMO15 probe in mice, the researchers found the dye accumulated in tumors and fluoresced on average five times more brightly than in regular muscle tissue. The fluorescence is not visible to the naked eye – it has to be observed through a handheld imaging device that is also under development.
The researchers conclude: “If this technology is successful in subsequent trials, it would significantly change our treatment of sarcoma. If we can increase the cases where 100 percent of the tumor is removed, we could prevent subsequent operations and potentially cancer recurrence.”
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