Cancer may become just a bad memory thanks to a team of medical researchers from the Duke University. The new agent lights up cancer cells, making them more visible during surgery.
In the last decade, there have been many advances in the field of oncology. From customized cancer therapies to high precision surgery robots, we may me just steps away from curing cancer. The team of researchers from the Duke University School of Science has devised a new substance that can greatly increase the surgeon’s chances of eliminating a tumor on the first run.
Nicknamed LUM015, once injected in the bloodstream, the contrast substance seeks out an enzyme called protease. According to recent research, it would seem that the enzyme can be found in high density inside cancerous cells.
The fluorescent agent seeks out this specific enzyme and binds itself to it. After injecting the substance, the surgeon can proceed with the operation. In theory, by using the substance in combination with an imaging device, the surgeon performing the operation can root out all the cancer-infected tissue from the patient.
When operating on a tumor, there is an increased chance that the surgeon is unable to cut out all the cancerous tissue. In most of this cases, the patient will have to undergo a second surgical intervention.
With this new imagining technique, it would seem that the chance of a second operation diminishes. By injecting the contrast substance, the cancerous cells will be illuminated. According to the team which devised the new substances, the remaining cancer cells, invisible to the naked eye, will glow more brightly than healthy tissue.
The study was performed by Melodi Javid Whitley and a professor of radiation oncology, by the name of Doctor David Kirsch.
According to the two doctors in charge of the study, early tests performed both on mice and humans have shown that the substance holds a tremendous potential. In all cases, LUM015 has demonstrated that it is indeed capable of marking the cancerous cell and reveal their location.
By making use of this novel technique, surgeons performing oncological operations will make sure that a follow-up surgical intervention will not be necessary.
In conclusion, LUM015, a new contrast agent, is capable of illuminating cancerous cells. The substance is able to bind itself to a protein found in malignant cells, called protease. When injected with LUM015, the cancerous cell glow 5 times more brightly on an imaging scanner than healthy tissue.
The team of scientist plans to more forward with their plan of making this substance available for oncological surgeries.