New Imaging System May Help Remove Tumor Tissue

by Sahil Rawal (’19)

Ovarian Cancer
Fig. 1: Ovarian cancer can be treated by surgery, but this surgery is not always completed correctly.

Ovarian cancer is commonly treated by surgery to remove the tumor, but often, tumor tissue is still left behind after the surery. To remove the extra tumor tissues, surgeons have to go back and manually distinguish between malignant and benign tissue. This difficulty leads to malignant tumor tissue being left in the patient for long periods of time, which is a risk for the future health of the patient.

Dr. Alexander Vahrmeijer and his team of researchers from the University Medical Center in Leiden decided to make this procedure much more efficient by creating a new near-infrared fluorescence imaging system that can easily detect malignant tissues. The imaging system would be used during cytoreductive surgery. The first phase of the study involved 30 healthy volunteers who took doses of OTL38, the near-infrared binding agent, to determine the proper dosage that would be most effective. The researchers then used this knowledge to administer the drug to 12 ovarian cancer patients. These patients then underwent cytoreductive surgery. The results showed that there was a 29% improvement in the amount of malignant tissue removed. Future research will involve working with larger groups of patients to see if the system can improve in terms of detecting malignant tissue.




  1. E. S. Hoogstins, et al., A novel tumor-specific agent for intraoperative near-infrared fluorescence imaging: a translational study in healthy volunteers and patients with ovarian cancer. Clinical Cancer Research (2016). doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-15-2640.
  2. Image Retrieved from:

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