Precision Cancer-Seeking Probe
Developed in Italy, the precision cancer-seeking probe guides the surgeon’s hand.
The cancer-seeking probe is now ready, leading the surgeon’s hand with precision. This advanced tool, developed by the National Institute of Nuclear Physics and Sapienza University of Rome, allows for accurate identification and removal of diseased tissues during surgery, guiding the surgeon directly to the location of even the tiniest lesions or those in challenging positions.
The innovative instrument has been tested on 20 patients in a clinical study conducted at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, demonstrating its effectiveness.
Currently, the probe is specifically designed for neuroendocrine tumors, which can affect various organs such as the intestine, pancreas, lungs, thyroid, and other glands.
However, researchers are already working to expand its use to other types of tumors.
The probe is designed to detect positrons, the antimatter counterparts of electrons, emitted by radioisotopes commonly used to mark tumors.
“Up until now, radioguided surgery has used gamma-ray probes, which do not work effectively when the area to be revealed is close to organs that absorb a high amount of radioisotopes, such as in the abdomen,” explain Francesco Collamati from INFN and Riccardo Faccini from Sapienza, among the authors of the study coordinated by Emilio Bertani and Francesco Ceci from IEO.
“Our newly devised probe, which detects positrons instead of photons, allows for the precise detection of specific tumor types in body regions where it would otherwise be impossible to locate them.” Thanks to this tool, the goal of precision surgery is now closer, “capable of removing nothing more and nothing less than what is necessary for healing,” says Bertani.
“It is essential to remember that for neuroendocrine tumors, surgery is the only curative form of treatment. Unfortunately, however, up to 30% of the surgeries fail to completely remove the tumor, and metastases reoccur in 10% of cases.
The new probe – Bertani concludes – represents a significant advancement and hope in the treatment of these tumors.”