A team of scientists from Washington University led by Samuel Achilefu, a professor of radiology and biomedical engineering have created special glasses that makes it possible to view cancer cells.
The high–tech glasses consist of custom video technology, a head–mounted display and a targeted molecular agent that attaches itself to the cancer cells and makes them glow when viewed through the glasses. Currently, surgeons find it difficult to distinguish tumours from the healthy tissues under high–powered magnification. This often leads them to remove adjacent healthy cells. Current procedures require surgeons to send tissue samples to the laboratory where it would be diagnosed for cancer cells. If the adjacent cell is identified as cancerous, then a second surgery is recommended. However, the new technology has made it possible for surgeons to remove tumour cells completely without harming the healthy cells. This can help solve the problem of breast cancer, which requires a follow up surgery.
In the studies conducted on lab mice, researchers injected indocyanine green into tumours so that the cancerous cells glow when viewed through the glasses. The new glasses, however, hold the potential to revolutionize the way in which a cancer surgery is done by saving both time and money.