Register for updates

 
 

Medicine & Health
RSS Feed
Smart Probe Detecting Cancer Cells May Improve Survival Rates
Monday, June 25, 2018 10:20:00 AM

Fluorescent tags of injected polymers are "turned on" by an enzyme overproduced in cancer cells, TAU researchers say

A new Tel Aviv University study explores a novel smart probe for image-guided surgery that may dramatically improve post-surgical outcomes for cancer patients.

In many kinds of cancers, it is often not the primary malignant tumor, but rather metastasis — the spread of lingering cancer cells to other parts of the body — that kills patients. A multidisciplinary team led by Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine created a smart probe that, when injected into a patient a few hours prior to surgery to excise a primary tumor, may help surgeons pinpoint where the cancer is situated down to several cancer cells, permitting them to guarantee the removal of more cancer cells than ever before.

"In cases of melanoma and breast cancer, for example, the surgeon may believe he/she has gotten everything — that he/she has excised the entire tumor and left the remaining tissue free of cancer. Even if only a few cells linger after surgery, too few or too small to be detected by MRI or CT, recurrence and metastasis may occur," Prof. Satchi-Fainaro says. "Our new technology can guide the surgeon to completely excise the cancer."

The study was published in Theranostics on June 21, 2018.

Making cancer cells "glow in the dark"

The new technique harnesses near-infrared technology to identify the cancer cells. "The probe is a polymer that connects to a fluorescent tag by a linker. This linker is recognized by an enzyme called cathepsin that is overproduced in many cancer types," says Prof. Satchi-Fainaro. "Cathepsin cleaves the tag from the polymer and turns on its fluorescence at a near-infrared light."

The smart probes may potentially be used to guide the surgeon in real time during tumor excision. The surgeon can also avoid cutting out any "non-glowing" healthy tissue.

The scientists first examined the effect of the probe in the lab on regular healthy skin and mammary tissue, and then on melanoma and breast cancer cells. They subsequently used mouse models of melanoma and breast cancer to perform routine tumor excision surgeries and smart probe-guided surgeries.

"The mice that underwent regular surgery experienced recurrence and metastasis much sooner and more often than those who underwent our smart probe-guided surgery," says Prof. Satchi-Fainaro. "Most importantly, those which experienced the smart probe surgery survived much longer."

Decreasing the need for additional surgery

"The probe may also reduce the need for repeated surgeries in patients with cancer cells that remain in the edges of removed tissue," Prof. Satchi-Fainaro says. "Altogether, this may lead to the improvement of patient survival rates."

"We are currently designing and developing additional unique polymeric Turn-ON probes for the purpose of image-guided surgery. They can be activated by additional analytes such as reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are overproduced in cancer tissues, or by using other chemiluminescent probes. We are always looking at ways to improve sensitivity and selectivity which are paramount to cancer patients' care."

The scientists who conducted the research for the study included Rachel Blau, Yana Epshtein and Evgeni Pisarevsky, all students in Prof. Satchi-Fainaro's TAU lab. The research is based on long-term collaboration with Prof. Doron Shabat of TAU's School of Chemistry, Prof. Galia Blum of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and clinicians Prof. Zvi Ram and Dr. Rachel Grossman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Tel Aviv Medical Center. This work was supported by the ERC Consolidator Award, the Israeli National Nanotechnology Initiative (INNI), Focal Technology Area (FTA) program: Nanomedicine for Personalized Theranostics, the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Nanotechnology Research Fund, the Israel Science Foundation and the Israel Cancer Association.




Latest News

Drug Candidate May Recover Vocal Abilities Lost to ADNP Syndrome

Protein snippet normalizes disrupted neural connectivity caused by genetic disorder, TAU researchers say.

TAU and Northwestern University Launch Joint Nanoscience Program

Collaboration to include student exchange program, post-doctoral scholarships and research grants.

Scientists Use Patients' Own Cells and Materials to Engineer Fully Personalized Tissue Implants of Any Kind

Risk of an immune response to an organ implant virtually disappears, TAU researchers say.

Center for the Study of the United States in Partnership with the Fulbright Program Established at TAU

New center designed to enhance the quality of scholarship in Israel about the U.S.

Neonatal Birthweights Increase in Direct Proportion to Number of Births

Large for gestational age (LGA) weight infants signal risk of recurrence, TAU researchers say.

New Platform Based on Biology and Nanotechnology Carries mRNA Directly to Target Cells

Combined platform provides safe, effective passage for therapies treating cancer and other diseases, TAU researchers say.

Scientists Discover Biological Ultraviolet Protection "Timer"

Wave-like process recruits skin protection systems to shield skin from sun exposure, TAU and Technion researchers say.

Where Deep Learning Meets Metamaterials

TAU researchers devise new approach to streamlining design of nanoscale building blocks with endless applications.

Environmental Factors May Trigger Onset of Multiple Sclerosis

Structural changes to protective neural membranes may be involved in onset of neurodegenerative disease, TAU researchers say.

"Robat" Uses Sound to Navigate and Map Unique Environments

New robot mimics bats' ability to employ sonar to navigate its surroundings, TAU researchers say.

contentSecondary
c

© 2018 American Friends of Tel Aviv University
39 Broadway, Suite 1510 | New York, NY 10006 | 212.742.9070 | info@aftau.org
Privacy policy | Tel Aviv University