While current brain cancer surgical methods depend on the trained eye of a surgeon, a newly developed microscope and imagining tool more precisely reveals the location, nature and concentration of cancerous tissue.
According to R. Graham Cooks, co-leader of the research team at Purdue University,
In a matter of seconds this techniques offers molecular information that can detect residual tumor that otherwise might have been left behind in the patient.
The tool is designed to spray a microscopic stream of charged solvent onto the tissue surface to gather information about its molecular makeup and produces a color-coded image that reveals the tumor cells.
Because it is relatively small and inexpensive, it could be easily installed in operating rooms to aid neurosurgeons. Cooks says that
This study shows the tremendous potential it has to enhance patient care.
Through mass spectrometry all of this information can be obtained from a biopsy in a matter of minutes and without significantly interrupting the surgical procedure."
Brain surgery using the tool was performed in the Advanced Multi-Modality Image Guided Operating Suite with the neurosurgery department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
It demonstrates that desorption electrospray ionization MS could be used to detect residual tumor that would have been left behind in the patient. The approach paves the way for the clinical testing of MS-based intraoperative monitoring of tumor metabolites, an advance that could revolutionize the care of surgical oncology patients.
Among the groups funding the study was The National Institute of Health, The National Center for Image Guided Therapy and a grant from the U.S. Army Research.