Increased accuracy in ovarian cancer imaging system

Researchers at MIT, led by Professor Angela Belcher and others, have developed a way to improve the accuracy of "debulking"--a surgery ovarian cancer patients undergo to remove tumors. Using a novel fluorescence imaging system, they were able to find and remove tumors as small as 0.3 millimeters during surgery in mice. Mice that underwent this type of image-guided surgery survived 40 percent longer than those who had tumors removed without the system. 

To make the tumors visible, the researchers designed chemical probes using single-walled carbon nanotubes that emit fluorescent light when illuminated by a laser. These nanotubes were coated with a peptide that binds to SPARC, a protein that is overexpressed by ovarian cancer cells. The probes bind to the tumors and cause them to fluoresce at NIR wavelengths, allowing surgeons to more easily find them with fluorescence imaging.