The UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center's Synthesis magazine highlighted work by UC Davis Biomedical Engineering Professor Laura Marcu regarding glioblastoma -- the most common, and aggressive, form of brain tumor:
Surgical oncologists always want to remove as much cancer as possible, regardless of where the tumor is located, but working in the brain is especially challenging. Remove too little and the cancer comes roaring back. Remove too much and the patient can suffer cognitive damage. Laura Marcu, professor of biomedical engineering and neurological surgery, is developing technology that could help surgeons precisely remove GBMs without harming healthy tissue.
“It’s very hard to visually differentiate between cancer and normal brain tissue,'” says Marcu. “'The idea is to be able to distinguish, in real time, the brain regions where tumor cells are present from healthy brain tissue.”
Marcu’s team is solving this problem with light, or more specifically, the ways different tissues respond to light. She has spent several years developing a technology called fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM), which uses light to identify molecules in tissues.
“We’re taking advantage of the optical properties of different tissue types,” says Marcu. “Light carries information about the molecular makeup of tissue, and each molecule has a different signature. By measuring how long molecules emit light after they are excited by a low-energy laser beam, we can identify the type of tissue.”
Read the article in its entirety.