Injectable Agent Illuminates Cancer During Surgery

January 11, 2016
By: Samiha Khanna, Duke Health News

Melodi Javid Whitley and David Kirsch, MD, PhD. Kirsch is the senior author of a study that shows a new injectable agent can cause cancer cells in a tumor to fluoresce, potentially increasing a surgeon’s ability to locate and remove all of a cancerous tumor on the first attempt. Shawn Rocco/Duke MedicineDoctors at Duke Medicine have tested a new injectable agent that causes cancer cells in a tumor to fluoresce, potentially increasing a surgeon’s ability to locate and remove all of a cancerous tumor on the first attempt. The imaging technology was developed through collaboration with scientists at Duke, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Lumicell Inc.

According to findings published January 6 in Science Translational Medicine, a trial at Duke in 15 patients undergoing surgery for soft-tissue sarcoma or breast cancer found that the injectable agent, a blue liquid called LUM015 (loom – fifteen), identified cancerous tissue in human patients without adverse effects.

Cancer surgeons currently rely on cross-sectional imaging such as MRIs and CT scans to guide them as they remove a tumor and its surrounding tissue. But in many cases some cancerous tissue around the tumor is undetected and remains in the patient, sometimes requiring a second surgery and radiation therapy. Read more.