The Times-Tribune

Shining light on cancer cells

Aim is to help surgeons better see where to cut.

- BY SABRIYA RICE

DALLAS — Researcher­s in Dallas are developing a new technology that they hope will literally shed light on a problem that has frustrated cancer surgeons worldwide.

The removal of cancerous tumors through surgery is an often life-saving treatment option — but it’s not an exact science.

“It’s always a balance between taking out too much or too little tissue,” explained Dr. Baran Sumer, a surgeon focused on cancers of the head and neck from the University of Texas Southweste­rn Medical Center.

Oncologist­s want to remove as much cancerous tissue from the body as possible, so the disease does not continue to grow or spread. But removing too much can result in deformatio­ns and other complicati­ons for patients.

Dr. Sumer and a team of researcher­s from the Simmons Comprehens­ive Cancer Center developed a technology called a pH Nanosensor, an injection that seeks out cancerous areas in the body and causes them to light up.

The goal is to help surgeons more precisely determine how much to cut and possibly reduce the need for extra procedures.

In findings published Monday in Nature Biomedical Engineerin­g, the injection had positive results in a study of mice with tumors of the head, neck and breast.

While promising, it’s important to note that the research is very preliminar­y. It’s too early to tell whether it will have the same effect in humans.

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