Oncologists and researchers have long been haunted by the inability to target all of the malignant, and only the malignant cells, during cancer surgery. Removal of any excess surrounding healthy tissue has ramifications, as does allowing any rogue cancer cells to linger in the body and regrow into a tumor, the lethal process known as metastasis. In an effort to deliver a precision solution to cancer detection, a research team from Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine is unveiling the true colors of cancer cells by marking them and “turning them on” using their new fluorescent nanoprobes system.
The so-called “smart-probe” technology was a collaborative effort of experts in chemistry and neurosurgery, led by the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Sackler. The procedure involves nanoprobes that are injected into a patient’s body shortly before an operation to detect the increased presence of the cysteine cathepsins enzyme, previously identified as being characteristic of
cancer cells. Once flagged, the probes are “turned on” and activated to highlight them for the surgeon. Studies using mice have shown that this precision method has helped double the survival rate from cancer. The research has been published in the journal, Theranostics, and the team hopes to use its patented technology in clinical trials on humans in the near future.