Medical Research: What is the background for this device? What are the main implications?
Dr. Sunar: Most of ovarian cancer cases are not diagnosed until after the disease has spread in the abdominal cavity. A major challenge is to detect and remove dozens or hundreds of metastatic tumor nodules within the abdominal cavity. Fluorescence endoscopy can utilize the high sensitivity and specificity of fluorescence contrast and high resolution of endoscopic imaging.
We are developing a clinically-relevant, fiber-based endoscopy system that allows both accurate fluorescence imaging and for projecting adaptive-shaped light for light-induced chemodrug delivery. The system can provide high contrast for improved demarcation and trigger drug release to destroy micrometastases. The system utilizes a highly sensitive camera and structured light illumination scheme with a projector for accurate fluorescence imaging of drug distribution, as well as allows light-triggered drug release and adaptive light delivery for optimized treatment of micrometastases. We expect that our novel illumination and drug release strategy will permit lower doxorubicin doses to be administered while simultaneously achieving more specific drug delivery in order to destroy the micrometastases and improve survival rates.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Sunar: The system will be able to be inserted into the abdominal cavity with only a keyhole incision being made, which is already routinely done in the clinic.
The system like this can help clinicians greatly with respect to guidance and treatment planning and optimization. Our approach has high clinical translation potential since
1) to achieve light-triggering we only slightly modify liposomal doxorubicin (which is already used for ovarian cancer) with clinically approved components and
2) keyhole endoscopic/laparoscopic approaches are minimally invasive, are routinely used in oncology and will be sufficient to enable fiber-based beam projection to trigger release in multiple micrometastases. This could significantly improve survival rates with reduced chemotherapy side effects due to controlled release and destruction.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Sunar: A quantitative imaging device like this should be deployed in clinical settings, which can guide or at least complement the skills of the clinicians. Since it is quantitative, the results won’t be dependent on the operator and it can be used at multiple sites to test the real clinical benefit by evaluating the clinical outcome. Light-based imaging and light-triggering-based chemo-drug release are minimally invasive approaches and do not introduce any harm to patients. Our approach can be implemented for many disease sites including lungs, gastrointestinal tract and oral cavity.