The new technique, developed by Israeli researchers, may improve survival rates and allow surgeons to remove more cancer cells than ever before.

Smart probes pinpoint cancer cells for precise surgery

By —— Bio and Archives--July 25, 2018

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Smart probes pinpoint cancer cells for precise surgery
Many cancer patients die not from the primary malignant tumor, but rather the spread of lingering cancer cells to other parts of the body, known as metastasis. The so-called “smart probe” developed by a team of Tel Aviv University (TAU) researchers may be able to help surgeons pinpoint cancer cells more precisely, allowing them to guarantee the removal of more cancer cells than ever before.


The smart probe, injected into the patient a few hours prior to surgery to excise the primary tumor, uses near-infrared technology to identify the cancer cells.

“The probe is a polymer that connects to a fluorescent tag by a linker. This linker is recognized by an enzyme called cathepsin that is overproduced in many cancer types,” says lead researcher Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro of the physiology and pharmacology department at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine. “Cathepsin cleaves the tag from the polymer and turns on its fluorescence at a near-infrared light.”

The smart probes may potentially be used to guide the surgeon in real time during tumor excision. The surgeon can also avoid harming any “non-glowing” healthy tissue, the researchers said.

“In cases of melanoma and breast cancer, for example, the surgeon may believe he/she has gotten everything — that he/she has excised the entire tumor and left the remaining tissue free of cancer. Even if only a few cells linger after surgery, too few or too small to be detected by MRI or CT, recurrence and metastasis may occur,” Satchi-Fainaro said. “Our new technology can guide the surgeon to completely excise the cancer.”—More…


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