Distinguishing cancer cells from healthy ones is nearly impossible during surgery, and is one of the primary reasons why tumor resections with the narrow margins often fail to stop the cancer from spreading. Cancer cells look and feel almost identical to normal tissue, so knowing how far to cut is often a hit-or-miss proposition. A new technology based on a nano-technological contrast media is allowing surgeons at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to see the cancer cells glowing bright green.
Developed by scientists at Cornell University, the system uses a fluorescence camera from Quest Medical Imaging (Middenmeer, The Netherlands) to activate so called “C dots” (Cornell dots) that can be used as an injectable marker to pinpoint cancer cells. The camera illuminates the scene while picking up the near-infrared fluorescent signal coming from the C dots that it superimposes on a live video screen.
Here’s a video from Sloan Kettering showing off how the technology functions and demonstrating it in an actual surgical case:
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