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Rad Oncology Homepage

Elekta Unity MR-linac gains FDA 510(k) clearance Simultaneously delivers radiation dose and visualization of tumors

Dr. Hermann Requardt United Imaging Healthcare appoints senior scientific advisor

Patient denied proton therapy dies, family received $25 million in court Points to the need for greater treatment coverage for certain cancer patients

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CMS to unveil mandatory payment model for radiation oncology Part of determining approach that saves more and offers greater quality

European report says radiotherapy 'undervalued' and needing 'greater investment' Equipment shortages, lack of investment, training variations

ViewRay to supply UK's GenesisCare with country's first MRIdian systems Providing soft-tissue imaging in real time and better tumor targeting

Accuray showcases software upgrades for CyberKnife and Radixact at ASTRO Allows for 40 percent faster treatment delivery

Precision cancer care with proton and radiation oncology Some of the latest systems and software entering the market

IBA Dosimetry debuts myQA Daily at ASTRO 2018 Has 125 ionization chamber measurement points

Unique image-guided probe lights up tumors to help surgeons operate better

by John W. Mitchell , Senior Correspondent
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center think their latest invention can help light the way toward better survival rates and quality of life for cancer surgery patients.

In a new study, researchers report they have successfully deployed a "transistor-like pH nanoprobe" that stays dark when exposed to normal tissue, but "turns on like a light" when it reaches solid tumors.

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The transistor-like device was invented to help improve a surgeon's ability to visualize cancer, Jinming Gao, Ph.D., professor of Oncology, Pharmacology and Otolaryngology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, told HCB News. Their study, which was conducted in mice, has just been published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

"Dr. Sumner is a head and neck surgeon and is frequently hampered with the lack of clear visualization during cancer surgery," said Gao.

He explained that for the past 10 years he and Dr. Sumner have teamed up to find a solution to this problem. Gao is a polymer chemist and bioengineer who developed the fluorescent nanoprobe. The light-imaging probe delineates tumor margins using pH signal to allow Dr. Sumner to more accurately resect a tumor and better preserve normal surrounding tissue.

"We invented a nanoprobe [that], when injected intravenously into mice with tumors, stays dark during blood circulation but switches on in cancerous tumors for illuminating them," explained Gao. "The switch-like on/off behavior of the nanoprobe is what is unique."

According to Gao, cancer acidity is nearly universal, whether in mice or humans. He said most medications and biological agents do not work in an all-or-nothing manner, that human biology is the "squishy science" of shades of gray.

"Our nanoprobe takes those shades of gray and transforms them into a black or white, all-or-nothing output for tumor margin delineation," Gao added.

The device is innovative as it helps supplement complex pattern recognition that surgeons develop from experience to distinguish between tumors and normal tissue, he explained. More accurate removal of a tumor and preservation of surrounding tissue could be very beneficial, for example, in reducing side effects in patients after rectal cancer surgery.

"The final decision, however, is binary; to remove or not remove tissue," said Gao. "To help with that decision an imaging agent must minimize ambiguous signals. The demonstration of the value of that binary response, is an exciting and tremendously important step for image guided surgery."

The image-guided nanoprobe — which is scheduled to start human trials in 2017 — may also potentially assist radiologists to help reduce "false rates" in imaging, as well as assist cancer researchers with noninvasive monitoring of drug responses.

Rad Oncology Homepage


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