Doctors create cancer-seeing goggles

(KSDK, St. Louis) - Doctors at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri have created cancer-seeing glasses for use during surgery.

The glasses are a lot like Google Glass, but instead of seeing the internet, surgeons can see lit up cancer cells. They have only been used on ten patients, and those patients have breast cancer or melanoma.

Doctors hope someday they can use this technology on all cancer patients to help save lives.

"It really has the ability to revolutionize the way that we take care of cancer patients," said Dr. Ryan Fields.

The glasses help surgeons like Fields with the Siteman Cancer Center see more precisely what they are working on, by recognizing a dye that's injected into a person's vein.

In a video from a recent lymph node removal surgery at Siteman you can see the incision area before the surgeon puts the glasses on. Then while wearing the glasses, the doctor sees a blue glowing image. That's the lymph node they're going after.

"The area that lights up kind of like what you would see on a radar. That's the most intense spot that dye was picked up," said Fields.

But the glasses are only one part of the technology being developed. Washington University Professor Dr. Sam Achilefu is creating a new dye that would be injected through the vein and detect cancer cells anywhere in the body.

"You can kind of see the edge of the cancer by wearing the goggles and administering this contrast agent that he's developing," said Fields.

Looking through the glasses a surgeon could see exactly where the cancer cells end and where the healthy tissue begins, decreasing the chances of a patient having to revisit the operating room for a second surgery.

"The real hope is that whatever we do impacts the patient in a very positive way," said Fields.

The developer is still waiting for the new dye to be approved by the FDA. That will be followed with a clinical trial using the dye and the glasses.

It should all happen in the next six months.


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