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Breakthrough in the Darkness With ‘Glowing Tumors’: an Innovation in Cancer Diagnostics

Breakthrough in the Darkness With ‘Glowing Tumors’: an Innovation in Cancer Diagnostics

Explore TumorGlow, an innovative cancer diagnostic technology illuminating tumors for precise surgery.

Ms. Angela Manoj, Dr. Subhayan Sur
February, 28 2024
1019

Recent advances in cancer diagnosis and therapy indicate further potential for improvement in the field of cancer treatment. Cancer surgery is one segment that has advanced significantly in recent years.

When the famous medical drama series Grey’s Anatomy aired an episode where they developed a technique to make cancer tumors glow in the dark to save a character's life, we all thought that's a brilliant way to eradicate cancer tumors completely from the body. However, it was fictional and just an idea of the writers of the show. However, it was not fictional anymore, when a thoracic surgeon at Penn Medicine, Dr. Sunil Singhal and his team of researchers developed the technique of combining a protein-bound intravenous dye i.e. indocyanine green also known as ICG with infrared light imaging technology which led to the invention of TumorGlow.

What started as a small thought of watching the fluorescent stars on his daughter’s bedroom ceiling to develop one of the groundbreaking inventions in the field of cancer surgery: TumorGlow, it is true that great ideas can come from anywhere!

What exactly is TumorGlow?

TumorGlow is an investigational approach that illuminates cancers in the operating room to make them visible to surgeons. Tumors have weakened blood vessels due to the process of tumor angiogenesis (Tumor angiogenesis is the process of formation of blood vessels in tumors), and TumorGlow uses their leaking vasculature to identify tumors in real time during resection.

TumorGlow is administered intravenously and accumulates in the cancerous cells. The dye then glows and highlights residual cancer cells when exposed to near infrared light during surgery that would otherwise go undetected by using imaging techniques, such as CT scans and MRI.

TumorGlow technology enables surgeons to perform more precise surgery by visually distinguishing cancerous and non-cancerous tissue, providing patients with better outcomes and lowering cancer recurrence rates. Another advantage of TumorGlow technology is that it can help to shorten the duration of surgery. By giving surgeons, a clear view of the cancer cells, they can work more efficiently and reduce the amount of time the patient is sedated.

TumorGlow technology has been tested in a variety of cancer types, including lung, breast, and brain cancer. In a clinical trial for lung cancer, TumorGlow was able to identify cancer cells that were not visible using conventional imaging techniques, allowing surgeons to remove more cancerous tissue and lead to better patient outcomes.

TumorGlow is classified as a personalized medical device by the Food and Drug Administration due to its tangible components, which include ICG and an imaging instrument etc. TumorGlow is also currently undergoing FDA practicality safety and efficacy trials for use in lung and ovarian cancers, and has been assessed independently in head and neck, mediastinal cancers, and also pancreatic cancer.

TumorGlow's ease of use is one of its main advantages. The technology is compatible with existing surgical equipment, and the fluorescent dyes used in the procedure are already FDA-approved for other applications. This means that hospitals can quickly adopt the technology and integrate it into existing surgical workflows.

On the other side, TumorGlow has some limitations. Currently, the technology can only visualize solid tumors and is not suitable for detecting cancer that has spread throughout the body. Furthermore, the technology is still in its early stages, and more research is required to completely understand it’s potential. Despite these limitations, TumorGlow represents a significant advancement in the fight against cancer. The technology has the potential to improve cancer patients' surgical outcomes and reduce the need for follow-up surgeries.

In conclusion, TumorGlow is a game-changing technology that has the potential to transform tumor imaging and improve surgical outcomes for cancer patients. The technology is simple to use, effective at detecting cancerous tissue, and has already demonstrated promising results in clinical trials. While more research is needed to fully understand the potential of TumorGlow, it is a significant step forward in the fight against cancer, and its development represents new hope for cancer patients worldwide.

Reference:

Singhal S. Follow the glow. The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. 2017 1;154(3):1119-20.

 

Authors:

Ms. Angela Manoj

Cancer and Translational Research Centre,

Dr. D. Y. Patil Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Institute, Tathawade, Pune,

Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth,

Email: angelamanoj3@gmail.com 

 

Dr. Subhayan Sur,

DBT- Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellow

Dr. D. Y. Patil Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Institute, Tathawade, Pune,

Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth,

Email: subhayan.sur@dpu.edu.in

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