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New technique allows medics to watch a brain tumor glow

By Tim Sandle     Oct 12, 2016 in Science
Using an experimental bio-paint, scientists have gained the ability to watch a brain tumor glow. Using this improved visual ability this will make surgical procedures more accurate.
The new glowing-tumor method has been tested out in a clinical trial on a human subject. By making a tumor glow, surgeons were able to successfully remove a golf-ball size brain tumor from a two-year-old boy.
By visualizing a tumor this overcomes one of the difficulties with cancer surgery – being able to see the entire tumor. Many cancerous cells are camouflaged alongside healthy tissues. This means that sometimes not all of the cancer is removed or the surgeon has to resort to removing some healthy tissue as well. This latter option can cause complications and there is a risk of damaging adjacent organs. This is especially so with the brain, where the removal of a tumor can lead to brain damage.
The new method uses a special bio-paint, which is branded BLZ-100 Tumor Paint. The basis of the chemical is a tumor ligand chlorotoxin conjugated to a fluorescent dye, indocyanine green. The intention is for the chemical to be injected into the cancerous site prior to surgery. This leads to the tumor glowing bright green when a laser light is applied via an infra-red camera.
The new method, although experimental, has been tested out in practice for the removal of a large tumor from a two-year-old child called Hunter. The child was suffering from aggressive cancer called medulloblastoma. The boy is now in full remission, according to Laboratory Roots.
In a research note, the lead investigator in the trial, Dr. Sarah Leary, said: “Cure is not just about successful treatment of a tumor, but successful treatment of a child.” The medic adds: “Much of cancer treatment for children is a trade-off where curative therapy comes with serious long-term side effects. By lighting the way for expert surgeons, we're hopeful that BLZ-100 Tumor Paint could help improve the quality of life for children by reducing treatment-related damage to the healthy brain.”
The findings have yet to be reported to a peer reviewed journal, and further trials are set to take place. Additional potential applications of BLZ-100 include breast, prostate, lung, colorectal and other solid tumor cancers.
More about Brain tumor, Tumor, biopaint, Surgery
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