Two reports by a team at the University of California, San Diego describe a method for visualizing tumor margins in vivothat could help improve the precision of surgical resection and the postoperative evaluation of resection completeness.1,2To commercialize the technology, the researchers have founded Avelas Biosciences Inc., which is carrying out animal studies in preparation for Phase I trials.
In the first study, the team engineered nanoparticles designed to be activated by a tumor-specific enzyme. Once activated, the nanoparticles delivered their labeling load, either a fluorescent dye or gadolinium, to the tumor cells. The label then could be detected by fluorescence or MRI, respectively.
In mouse xenograft tumors derived from human breast cancer cells,the nanoparticles preferentially accumulated in tumors instead of in nearby healthy tissue.