NOV 22, 2016 10:04 AM PST

Brain Tumors All Aglow

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
In as much as 50 percent of operations to remove brain tumors, some cancerous bits are left behind and the cancer makes a most unwelcomed return. Now, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania say a technique that makes brain tumors fluoresce during surgery will enable more thorough removal and minimize tumor recurrence.


 
Each year, surgeons operate on over 15,000 patients to remove brain tumors. The extremely delicate nature of these operations already put patients at increased risks for complications. Furthermore, the success of the operation is drastically minimized when tumor tissues are left behind because the tumor margins are difficult to identify.
 
To circumvent cancer’s ability to camouflage itself among normal tissues, Penn researchers set out to make cancer as visible as possible to the surgeon. Specifically, they engineered a dye that collects mostly in the tumor tissues, making the cancer glow brightly as compared to the healthy tissues.
 
The dye agent is known as indocyanine green (ICG), and it is visualized with near infrared imaging light. "Fluorescent contrast agents take visualization to a whole new level," said John Lee, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine. "It has the potential for real-time imaging, identification of disease, and most importantly, precise detection of the tumor's margins. With this, we know better where to cut."
 
The concept of making tumors glow is not new. Last month, doctors from Seattle Children’s Hospital used a chemical called BLZ-100 Tumor Paint to aid in the removal of a brain tumor in a 2-year-old. Of note, both techniques employ the use of the dye, indocyanine green.
 

In the current pilot study at Penn, researchers say their technique showed successful visual enhancement in 12 out of 15 tumors. Of those patients in which the fluorescence signal was strong, surgeons reported the glow was visible even under the dura.
 
"This technique, if approved by the FDA, may offer great promise to physicians and patients," Singhal said. "It's a strategy that could allow greater precision across many different cancer types, help with early detection, and hopefully better treatment success."
 
Additional sources: Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JAN 23, 2020
Cancer
JAN 23, 2020
The role of circular RNA in melanoma
New research published in the journal Cancer Cell investigates the role of circular RNAs in the spread of melanoma. Melanoma is a particularly aggressive c
FEB 13, 2020
Cancer
FEB 13, 2020
Can Ebola help treat glioblastomas?
You might want to sit down for this. New research published in the Journal of Virology has named a surprising new ally to brain tumors: Ebola. Yes, yo
MAR 02, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
MAR 02, 2020
DNA Replication Discovery May Lead to New Cancer Treatments
Researchers have learned more about DNA replication during cell division, and their insights may help create new types of cancer therapeutics
MAR 02, 2020
Cancer
MAR 02, 2020
E. coli and colon cancer
Research published recently in Nature provides evidence for a direct link between the presence of E. coli and increased risk of colon cancer. Res
MAR 10, 2020
Cancer
MAR 10, 2020
Chemo more effective with Intralipid treatment
A study published recently in Scientific Reports suggests a novel technique to make chemotherapy more effective. The technique couples chemotherapy na
MAR 17, 2020
Cancer
MAR 17, 2020
Cancer and the risk of AFib
Research presented at the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session Together with World Congress of Cardiology (ACC.20/WCC) suggests t
Loading Comments...