Identifying and removing tumors is critical in the treatment of pancreatic and ovarian cancers, but some tumors are so tiny that surgeons find it difficult or even impossible to detect and remove them. Researchers at Boston University’s School of Medicine are experimenting with highly specific, image-guided nanoprobes to help locate and remove these sub-millimeter tumors.
The nanoprobes are loaded with rhodamine, a chemical compound used as a dye. The theory is that when nanoprobes are injected into a cancer patient and then exposed to a certain wavelength of light, the probes will illuminate the tumors, making it easier for surgeons to remove them.
These nanoprobes were found to be 95 percent accurate at discerning tumor tissue from healthy tissue in rats with pancreatic tumors, even at the sub-millimeter level.
Early success in testing offers hope of using nanoprobes to treat mesothelioma, particularly peritoneal mesothelioma which occurs in the thin membrane surrounding the abdomen. For mesothelioma patients, it’s vitally important to remove mesothelioma tumors completely in order to improve a patient’s prognosis.
The major obstacle in this field of medical technology is distinguishing between tumor tissue and normal tissue during surgery. Though still early in the testing process, these nanoprobes give hope to mesothelioma patients that this big obstacle will soon be a thing of the past.