ATLANTA, GA (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Brain tumors will attack 40,000 Americans this year. Removing the malignant and most aggressive forms can be a tough task for surgeons. It's hard to see where the tumor begins and ends, but glowing technology is shedding light on the problem.
In those old sci-fi flicks, deranged doctors performed dangerous experiments in black and white. Now things are in color, and dedicated doctors are lighting up cancer to kill it!
"A patient drinks an agent that gets metabolized by the brain cancer cells into a fluorescent compound that stays within the cells," Costas G. Hadjipanayis, M.D., Ph.D. chief of neurosurgery service at Emory University Hospital Midtown, told Ivanhoe.
The drug Gliolan has been used safely in thousands of patients in Europe. Now, at Emory University, it's in its first U.S. clinical trial for patients with glioblastomas which are dangerous brain tumors that can be difficult to fully remove.
"You can see with the blood, spinal fluid it's very hard to visualize what's a tumor and what's not," Dr. Hadjipanayis said.
The drug, taken hours before surgery, makes the tumor cells light up, helping surgeons identify and remove more of the cancer. The glowing tumor technology helped safely remove an aggressive cancer from Boris Zeide's brain. Other doctors said it would be impossible.
"They were afraid he wouldn't be able to speak or walk. He's not just alive, he's talking," Liz Zeide, Boris' wife, said.
Using similar technology, the first fluorescence-guided surgery has been performed on an ovarian cancer patient. Doctors say it helped surgeons spot a tumor 30 times smaller than they would have been able to detect with standard techniques.
Phase two clinical trials for fluorescence-guided surgery started in January in conjunction with the Mayo Clinic. Gliolan is not FDA approved at this point, but more trials are expected. While the two methods can help with tumor removal, patients still need to go through chemotherapy or immunotherapy to lower the risk of the cancer coming back. MORE
Click here for additional research on Glowing Tumors: Cutting Out Cancer By Lighting It Up!
Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Costas G. Hadjipanayis
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