When it comes to sentinel node biopsies, there are numerous problems with Technetium-99m (99mTc) isotope used nowadays to tag the lymph nodes. It is a short-lived, gamma-emitting substance. It has myriads of public safety concerns. It is not available at remote hospitals, either because of logistics of transportation or the need for a radiopharmacy.
At the Future Health Mission 2011 in San Francisco last week, we met with Dr. Eric Mayes, CEO of Endomagnetics, a University College London spinoff that is working on new technology for sentinel node biopsies. The company believes that its product, an instrument dubbed SentiMag, can do as good a job with nano magnetic tracers staging cancer as Technetium-99m and a Geiger counter. And European Commision seems to agree. In December 2010, the company was given CE Mark of approval for the SentiMag, an “ultrasensitive hand-held probe that is capable of detecting magnetic materials in the human body.”
Here’s Dr. Mayes answering our questions about Endomagnetics, its technology, and the company’s future:
More from the product page:
Following safe and proven medical practice, a magnetic tracer is injected near the tumour to provide a trackable signal. The SentiMag™ is then used by surgeons to locate the lymph node closest to the tumour – a vital step to determining whether or how far the cancer has spread.
SentiMag™ uses magnetic tracers that are administered by the surgeon as part of SLNB procedures. It represents an effective and valuable alternative to nuclear medicine for node detection, and so enables the latest medical practice to be offered in a greater variety of hospitals.
Importantly, SentiMag™ requires minimal clinician re-training, and the method puts the surgeon in control, improving workflow and making best practice available to all. The SentiMag™ is based on a patented design that self corrects against electrical, mechanical and thermal noise, offering the world’s best sensitivity.