Has Science Found A Way To See The Tiniest Tumors – Just As They Are Starting To Grow?
If there was just a technology that allowed the budding tumor growth to be detected by some high-tech optical microscope or scanner, a lot of patients would have been spared from tumors spreading to other parts of the body and doctors would not be too late in providing the appropriate treatment.
A new surgical camera has been recently developed by German researchers. This new innovation allows doctors to see the tiniest tumor with luminous dye. During any tumor surgery, it is undeniably difficult to see where a tumor starts and where the healthy tissue begins even if surgeons are using a high-tech optical microscope with the brightest microscope bulbs, or a scanning electron microscope or other imaging device. This new and special camera has shown promising results in detecting and removing tumor growths, increasing the potential for making tumor-removal surgeries more successful.
Detecting Unseen Cancer Cells
The new German-designed surgical camera will make it easy for surgeons to remove the tumor completely without leaving tiny and unseen cancer cells. This refers to tumor remnants that are in millimeters and therefore too small to even notice. This was disclosed by Nikolaos Deliolanis, head of the research group responsible for developing the camera. Deliolanis and the other researchers came from Mannheim’s Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA).
How The Camera Works
Dyes are injected into a patient’s blood before surgery. Antibodies that stick to tumor cells are carried by these fluorescent molecules (dyes). The molecules turn blue, red, green or another color and this would allow doctors to see if the antibodies have attached to tumor growths when the tissue is illuminated during surgery with the light set at specific wavelength. The camera produces an image in normal color and superimposes with an image that shows glowing areas caused or reached by the fluorescent dye.
Improving Survival Rate
The camera operator receives more accurate information which for patients could mean that they have an improved survival rate when operated on using the fluorescent dye. An extra ordinary feature of this new surgical camera is its capability to detect to as many as four dyes at a single time. Doctors can inject several dyes into the patient’s blood that would allow doctors to see the tumor’s reaction and how it can help to find out more about the biochemical structure of the cancer cells.
Nikolas Dimitriadis, a scientist at PAMB (Fraunhofer Project Group for Automation in Medicine and Biotechnology) which is a part of IPA explains that “ seeing where the healthy tissue begins and where the cancel cells end is especially important with malignant brain tumors”. Surgeons doing brain tumor surgery target to remove the least amount of healthy tissue as much as possible. But even the tiniest brain tumor cell left in the bran could turn the cancer cells to become more aggressive and fatal than the original tumor which was removed.
A prototype of the new camera has been presented at the Medical Trade Fair in Düsseldorf on November 20-23, 2013. According to Dimitriadis, the next stage is the clinical trials which are set in 2014. The trials are designed to find out how suitable the camera would be in clinics. And the scope of the clinical trials would be focused in brain tumor surgery.
What do you think of this innovation?