Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Doctors “See” the Cancer Light


          When someone says that they have “seen the light”, it often is in reference to something religious, not scientific.  However, any progress towards successfully treating cancer, in my opinion, is worth praising Jesus himself over.  When I saw that there has been a pair of glasses that let surgeons visualize where cancer cells in a patient are through a dye and light technology, I couldn’t help but say a quick “thank god” in the name of this breakthrough technology.

            The technology used is a fluorescent marker that is injected into the patient, which glows blue when seen through the glasses.  The purpose of this technology is to easier differentiate between healthy cells and cancerous cells, and to ensure that no stray cancerous cells are left behind during surgery. A study in the Journal of BiomedicalOptics made note that tumors as small as 1 mm in diameter could be detected with the new technology.  The glasses were first used in surgery on February 10, 2014.  This technology is so brand spanking new that it does not even have a name yet. 



            The glasses can reduce the need for additional surgical procedures, thus minimizing a patient’s “pain, inconvenience, and anxiety”.  This is due to the fact that the technology would eliminate the need for surgeons to remove surrounding tissue beyond the scope of the tumor to test it to see if it also is infected with cancerous cells.  This testing leads to additional surgeries if the tissues are found to also be infected.  The article states that 20-25% of women who are breast cancer patients have to go back in for a second procedure due to the lacking of accuracy of the current technology.


            The technology was developed by a team led by Dr. Samuel Achilefu, professor of radiology and biomedical engineering at Washington University.  It utilizes custom video technology with a head mounted display and the injected dye (“molecular agent”) that attaches to the cancer cells.  He is still seeking FDA approval for any revisions he has to make his technology the absolute best it can be before it can go public.

Posted by Taylor Schille (3)

7 comments:

  1. This is quite an amazing advancement in cancer cell removal. I do hope to hear more about this, particularly in its effectiveness in removing all existing cancerous cells. How exactly does the dye only adhere to cancerous cells however?
    Posted by Ashton Brown

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    1. The dye adheres to the cancerous cells through a "targeted molecular agent" according to the article! The test agent used in lab rats was called indocyanine green.

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  2. Wow that is actually pretty amazing, something like this gives me faith for further advancements until cancer is no longer a threat. I would like to know though, what that particular dye is made of, if you don't mind?

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  3. The ability to view life fluorescence during a surgery is an amazing breakthrough. As was mentioned in your article, the reduction of additional surgeries is a fantastic reality for so many victims of diseases like cancer. I cannot imagine the potential of this technology for so many other treatments. The precision available with live fluorescence could save so many lives.

    Posted by Michael Dailing.

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    1. It will certainly be interesting to see how they choose to proceed with the technology! I think that the sooner it is perfected and released and used we will start seeing amazing things in the future of surgery and cancer treatment.

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  4. This is amazingly cool and and useful technology. The increased accuracy leading to less follow-up procedures will be huge for cancer patients! One less trip to a hospital is worth a lot more than it sounds and will be good for patient morale in addition, obviously, to their overall health as well.

    Posted by Kevin Barisano

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