Fluorescent probe for oral cancer

May 7, 2010, UC Davis

(PhysOrg.com) -- UC Davis researchers have developed a laser probe for the early detection of oral cancer. A trial with human subjects shows that the device could also be used during surgery to locate the edges of a tumor.

Approximately 43,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with tumors of the mouth, pharynx and larynx each year. The main risk factor is smoking, but a recent rise in cases has been linked to . Most cases are not diagnosed until the cancer has reached an advanced stage.

"There's a lot out there about breast, prostate and , but people are not so aware about and its devastating consequences," said Laura Marcu, a professor of biomedical engineering at UC Davis. "People don't think to look for it, and there isn't any routine screening."

Marcu's laboratory collaborated with Dr. Gregory Farwell's group in the Department of Otolaryngology at the UC Davis Cancer Center to develop the fiber-optic probe.

The probe stimulates molecules in the patient's tissues with a laser. Some of these molecules naturally respond by re-emitting fluorescent light. The device rapidly detects and analyzes this light using a process called "time-resolved " (TR-LIFS), which provides information about the types of molecules present.

During surgery, blood can distort the intensity of the fluorescence signal but not its duration. By using sensitive measurements of the change in fluorescence over time, surgeons can see the tumor margins even as they are cutting the tissue.

Based on encouraging results in animal tests, Marcu and Farwell's team recruited nine human volunteers from among patients who arrived at the UC Davis Medical Center for surgical therapy of the mouth, throat and larynx. They compared readings from spectroscopy with biopsy samples from the same locations and found that the probe could accurately diagnose the cancer in the surgical environment.

The probe is similar to one that Marcu has already developed for use with brain tumors. In clinical trials, surgeons have used her technology to delineate the margins of tumors during surgery.

Details of the human oral cancer study will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

Presurgical targeted therapy delays relapse of high-risk stage 3 melanoma

January 17, 2018
A pair of targeted therapies given before and after surgery for melanoma produced at least a six-fold increase in time to progression compared to standard-of-care surgery for patients with stage 3 disease, researchers at ...

Dulling cancer therapy's double-edged sword

January 17, 2018
Researchers have discovered that killing cancer cells can actually have the unintended effect of fueling the proliferation of residual, living cancer cells, ultimately leading to aggressive tumor progression.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.