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New Research to Identify Brain Tumors is Promising for Neurosurgery

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Published on Jan 9, 2013

The use of a new brain tumor-targeting contrast agent that differentiates between normal and cancer cells in conjunction with a high-powered microscopy system could potentially lead to a method of more precise neurosurgery for brain tumors, according to research paper published as a cover story in the December issue of Translational Oncology. Developed by researchers in the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at Stony Brook University, the contrast agent adheres to a molecular marker of medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer, and can be seen by the optical microscope system, also developed by the research team.

In their article entitled "Microscopic Delineation of Medulloblastoma Margins in a Transgenic Mouse Model Using a Topically Applied VEGFR-1 Probe," Stony Brook researchers Dr. Jonathan T.C. Liu, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and BME graduate students Danni Wang, Steven Y. Leigh, and Ye Chen, and colleagues from Stanford University, created a contrast agent that adheres to vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1 (VEGFR-1), which is overexpressed on the surface of many medulloblastoma cell lines and primary tissues. The team developed a VEGFR-1 chemical targeting agent that was topically applied to sample tissue.

Based on the research model, which confirmed cancerous tissue through histopathology, the team discovered that by using the contrast agent in conjunction with laser-scanning 3D microscopy, the optical contrast agent caused tumors to "glow" with fluorescence at each of the tumor margins. The process enabled the research team to define tumor margins, including residual tumor cells.

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