Tools for better pancreatic cancer surgery
Pancreatic cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related death. Technology from an EU-funded project could guide surgery to remove pancreatic tumours and target post-operative radiotherapy to cancerous cells, improving patients' chances of survival.
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Updated on 16 April 2019
Pancreatic cancers, located deep in the body, are surrounded by important arteries and veins and often only detected at an advanced stage. The EU-funded PRISAR project has developed imaging tools that indicate a pancreatic tumours edges, which could help surgeons to remove as much of the mass as possible more safely. Other techniques developed in the project aim to direct radionuclide therapy at any remaining tumour cells.
Together, these techniques could reduce the chances of secondary tumours, known as metastases, and limit damage to healthy cells and tissue. They would also reduce complications and treatment time. Patients will experience a better quality of life, while healthcare systems save on treatment costs.
Dye, camera, therapy
PRISAR researchers have developed a fluorescent dye a chemical probe that is attracted to chemical signals produced by a pancreatic tumour. The dye targets new blood vessels associated with cancerous cells so that it defines the tumours edges on monitoring equipment.
The project team has piloted this tumour detection on various standard imaging devices, using a mouse model they developed for the project.
PRISAR has also produced a prototype camera for doctors to use with the chemical probe in surgery. The hand-held device detects the dye using laser-generated sound waves a process known as optoacoustic imaging. This system is being certified as a medical device for human use.
Finally, the team has adapted the chemical probe to target radiotherapy to cancerous cells. This part of the project has also generated information on how different pancreatic tumours behave, which could be used to help to develop personalised treatment.
Project results could have wider impacts. The imaging research contributes to a standard definition of a clear tumour margin, big data processing developed in PRISAR is relevant for other diseases, and overall, the project is contributing to Europes competitiveness in medical imaging.