One of the hardest parts of cancer surgery is differentiating cancer cells from healthy cells. Washington University in St. Louis developed these new high-tech pair of glasses to assist surgeons. The glasses turn cancer cells blue after the patient is injected with a special dye that targets the cancer cells.
“We’re in the early stages of this technology, and more development and testing will be done, but we’re certainly encouraged by the potential benefits to patients,” stated breast surgeon Julie Margenthaler MD, an associate professor of surgery at Washington University. “Imagine what it would mean if these glasses eliminated the need for follow-up surgery and the associated pain, inconvenience and anxiety.” Dr. Margenthaler performed surgery yesterday using the glasses.
Surgeons are supposed to remove tumors and neighboring tissues that may or may not include cancer cells. The samples are sent to a pathology lab and viewed under a microscope. If cancer cells are found in the neighboring tissues, then a second surgery is recommended for removing additional tissue that is also checked for cancer. These glasses could help reduce additional surgical procedures and stress on patients along with time and expense.
This technology was developed by a team that is led by Samuel Achilefu, PhD, professor of radiology and biomedical engineering at Washington University. The technology uses custom video technology, a head mounted display, and a targeted molecular agent that attaches to cancer cells. Tumors that are as small as 1mm in diameter can be detected with the technology.
[Image Credit: Washington University School of Medicine]