Successful treatment of cancer requires targeted and individualized treatment, and subsequently an assessment of the state of the tumor being examined, both gross and microscopic, however oncologists have no method of identifying microscopic tumor in the patient. This results in tumor cells being left behind in patients undergoing surgery. Currently, the only way to determine the presence of any microscopic residual is to examine the excised tumor, stained with a proper marker, under a microscope, which only adds to the complexity and length of the surgery and treatment. The two current alternatives in these cases are either to do a more expanded resection, causing more healthy cells to be removed as well in the process, or to simply estimate the residual disease to be negligible and risk a recurrence of the cancer. The modern biomarkers and staining of the cancer cells are sufficiently reliable to be detectable, nevertheless, they still need bulky focusing optics and high performance optical filters and as a result incompatible with the minimally invasive oncologic procedures of imaging small tumor cavities in surgical operations. Our solution brings the tools of pathology into the operation room (OR) and the tumor itself allowing to visualize and examine the tumor bed in real-time and alleviating the need for further operations in the future. This work takes advantage of the unique feature of the biomarker being used, enabling them to be excited at near- infrared (NIR) wavelengths and thanks to Silicon’s optical features, we can leverage its optical properties in the NIR range with a time- gated approach, to eliminate the need for optical equipment during the imaging process. As a result, we can almost effortlessly provide real-time information on the presence of potential residual disease in the patient during surgery and provide a direct visualization of microscopic tumor residuals in the patient to allow for a guided resection and a targeted treatment.
Project ended: 08/24/2021